Drug suspect ‘rises from the dead’
Shot and left for dead, Francisco Santiago Jr. lived to tell his story.
From his hospital bed, Santiago, a kuliglig (motorized pedicab) driver, belied cops’ claims of a consummated drug deal on Aldecoa Sreet in Malate 1:25 a.m. on Tuesday.
“There was no buy-bust. Motorcycle riding men shot us,” he told the Inquirer while handcuffed to the railing of his hospital bed at Ospital ng Maynila’s emergency room.
Still attached to an oxygen tank, Santiago, who was in a hospital gown, struggled to speak. He had a gun-shot wound in the chest covered by gauze. The bullet reportedly exited through his rib and punctured his lungs.
Santiago told the Inquirer to talk to his mother Ligaya and aunt Yolly instead.
Ligaya and Yolly recounted Santiago’s story outside the emergency room: Two men who introduced themselves as cops boarded Santiago’s kuliglig on Monday afternoon. Santiago didn’t say where and at what time this happened. One of the “cops” then commandeered the vehicle and ordered him to move to the passenger seat beside the other man.
The three drove around Manila until the early hours of Tuesday. Then, armed men shot them in Malate.
“Jay R [Santiago’s nickname] said he knew they would kill him so he played dead,” Yolly said, adding he only decided to move when he felt the media’s presence.
Initial reports reaching the Manila Police District (MPD) homicide section at 1:25 a.m. on Tuesday said “two males” were “DOS” (dead on the spot) in front of Aloha Hotel on Roxas Boulevard.
The report was relayed to homicide investigators by PO3 Roy Candelario of the Malate police station 9.
While crime laboratory operatives were marking the scene for evidence, Santiago, who was lying face down inside the yellow police line, slowly raised his arms and pleaded to be allowed to surrender, surprising everyone, including the police.
MPD director Senior Supt. Joel Coronel said Santiago was their main target and was on the drug watchlist. Despite this, the district’s internal affairs office will conduct an investigation “to see if there were lapses.”
It took Malate police 11 hours to submit their official report to the homicide section.
Based on the official report, a shoot-out ensued at 12:30 a.m.
Police said there were only two persons involved. The other fatality was identified as George Huggins alias Greggy.
Yolly denied her nephew, sold drugs. But police claimed he was shot after a buy-bust operation. PO1 Orlando Gonzales reportedly acted as buyer and bought P500 worth of shabu from Santiago.
Yolly said Santiago denied he had a gun. The police version is that Santiago pushed Huggins out of the vehicle and shot the cops using a. 38-caliber gun. Huggins supposedly used a .22 revolver.
Ligaya said her problem now was finding money to pay for Santiago’s hospital bills.
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