3 brothers slain ‘like pigs’
CEBU CITY—There was no knock on the bamboo slats that served as a door for the shanty of the Umpad family at the site of an abandoned government project here when police came looking for brothers Jerome, John Vincent and Ruben.
When their mother was ordered out and heard gunshots inside what the Umpads call home, she knew her three sons had been killed.
The brothers were natural targets in the government’s anticrime campaign and war on drugs—they had just been released from the Mandaue City Jail after they were charged with but cleared of murder.
The three regained freedom on Friday after seven years in jail. Jerome planned to find work, according to his sister, Gladys.
Their killings at dawn of Oct. 2, according to police, were part of a drug buy-bust operation.
Rustom, the youngest among the brothers, was arrested for alleged possession of drug paraphernalia.
Gladys, the eldest of the siblings, said her brothers wanted to start a new life after they were imprisoned at a young age.
Jerome was only 21, John Vincent, 20 and Ruben, 18 when they were thrown into the Mandaue City Jail. They were cleared after seven years.
Jean, their mother, was crying for justice but said she was too afraid to press charges.
“Cops treated my sons like pigs,” she said. “I hope my sons would be given justice,” she said.
She, however, said she was afraid to file charges because Rustom, her youngest son, was still in police custody.
“I am afraid for my security. The security of my family especially my son, Rustom, who is still imprisoned,” she said.
But she said she didn’t want to keep silent. “They killed my children and keep saying that they were into illegal drugs,” she said. “They were not imprisoned because of drugs but because Jerome killed someone and he was even provoked,” she added.
“Their case was murder and not illegal drugs,” Jean said.
She recounted the horror. The family slept in their shanty at the lot where the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC), a “white elephant,” sat when police came.
“How could they say it was a buy-bust operation when they didn’t even knock?” Jean said.
“They just destroyed our fence and door,” she said.
Police immediately handcuffed Rustom and Jean’s live-in partner.
“They even stomped” on the face of Jean’s partner, she said. “Rustom’s wife and I were pushed (away),” she added.
After they were ordered out of the shanty, Jean repeatedly asked police what was happening but she suddenly heard six successive gun shots.
“When I heard gunshots, I already knew that my three sons were already dead,” Jean said.
Senior Supt. Roberto Alanas, Mandaue City police director, said the deadly police operation was legitimate.
He showed records supposedly showing the Umpad brothers were members of the Sadaya Drug Group operating even inside Mandaue City Jail with their leader Arnold Sadaya.
“We caught several members of the Sadaya drug group who divulged their names,” Alanas said.
The Umpad brothers, he said, “were on our list and when they were freed, they still continued” involvement in drugs.
He also showed a coordination report informing the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency of an operation by Mandaue City police against John Vincent, who had been caught in surveillance operations allegedly selling “shabu” (crystal meth).
Alanas said an investigation was welcome and would cooperate.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Central Visayas had decided to investigate the killings.
Lawyer Arvin Doron, CHR regional director, said the brothers could have been murdered.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.