Catanduanes cop ordered by superior to kill drug suspect quits
VIRAC, Catanduanes — A police officer here quit the force after making a public confession accusing his superior officers of plotting the murder of a local drug pusher to show a “kill” record apparently required of the local police office.
PO1 Vincent Tacorda, 30, said he had evidence to prove his allegations, including recorded phone conversations between him, his superior and another officer about killing the suspected pusher, identified as Samuel Rojas, 56, an aide at Viga Central Elementary School.
Rojas, tagged by police as the No. 1 pusher in Viga, was shot while watching TV at an electronics shop in the village of San Jose on Aug. 10, 2016. He survived the attack.
According to Tacorda, he had been given the job of killing Rojas after some of his colleagues refused to accept it. Had Rojas been killed, it could have been the first case of extrajudicial killing in the province of Catanduanes, said Tacorda.
Tacorda said Rojas had been marked for liquidation so the provincial police could present it as an “accomplishment” in the war on drugs. The province of Catanduanes had not reported a drug-related EJK case so far.
The job of killing Rojas, Tacorda said, had been offered to up to eight policemen belonging to an elite group of intelligence operatives organized by the Philippine National Police leadership. Most declined the assignment, leaving Tacorda stuck with the job.
Tacorda said he was forced to accept the mission since he “could not refuse a direct order from my superior.”
The mission took Tacorda to Viga, some 50 km from the capital Virac, to initially tail Rojas with the help of a former policeman whom he did not identify.
An official police report said two motorcycle-riding suspects attacked Rojas. Tacorda said he was one of the suspects and the gunman. Tacorda said he fired at Rojas and hit him in the back but Rojas survived.
“The shell failed to eject and I failed to fire a second time,” said Tacorda. The gun had been unused for six months and this could be the reason it jammed.
According to Tacorda, Senior Supt. Jesus Martirez told him to leave no trace that the hit on Rojas was a police operation. Martirez was then Catanduanes police chief. He is now chief of the PNP Research and Development Center in Camp Crame.
After Rojas was shot, Tacorda added, Senior Insp. Nathaniel Jacob had called him up to ask why Rojas wasn’t killed. Jacob who was then officer in charge of the Viga town police and is currently deputy Virac police chief.
Both Martirez and Jacob could not be reached.
Tacorda on April 26 submitted a letter of irrevocable resignation to Senior Supt. Jacinto Culver Sison, head of the PNP Regional Headquarters Support Group (RSHG) in Camp General Simeon Ola in Legazpi City, the regional police headquarters.
“I can no longer feel fulfillment in my work and the undue pressure greatly affects my family,” said Tacorda, who is married with four children.
Tacorda said despite his contributions to the war on drugs, his superiors transferred him to the RHSG from the provincial police force of Catanduanes which he considered as a demotion.
He said he was ready to reveal everything he knows about how the drug war is being abused “in the proper forum” but preferred the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct the probe.
Tacorda said he knew he could be charged with complicity in murder for the hit job on Rojas and had already consulted a lawyer.
He also disclosed that policemen plant evidence during drug busts and their involvement in assassination plots hatched by politicians against their enemies.
He also revealed irregularities in the police handling of the province’s No. 1 drug suspect, Manuel “Galog” Huit Jr.
Huit, according to Tacorda, was arrested in a Virac inn on Jan. 19, 2016 with a kilogram of “shabu” worth more than P1 million and two cal. 38 revolvers.
When the seized drugs reached police, however, Tacorda said a large part of it had been replaced with “tawas (alum).”
He said Huit had been a frequent visitor at the Catanduanes police headquarters, meeting his distributors right inside the office where a relative of Huit is a key officer. —WITH REY ANTHONY OSTRIA