Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 06:25:00 03/12/2010
MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has found that police officers committed multiple violations of human rights in a supposed shoot-out with suspected robbers in Parañaque City in 2008 that left six civilians, including a 7-year-old child, dead.
In a resolution dated Jan. 5, the CHR recommended the filing of charges against 24 officers of the Philippine National Police and the institution of policy reforms in the PNP to prevent a repeat of the killings.
The CHR said “basic rights were ignored” on the night of Dec. 5, 2008, “not because the civilians in the area were mistaken for criminals by the police” but because “they were presumed to be criminals.”
On that night, suspected members of the Waray Waray and Ozamiz gangs engaged policemen in a shoot-out inside a subdivision in Parañaque.
At the end of the 40-minute gun battle, 16 people lay dead, including 10 alleged robbers and six civilians.
Then Chief Supt. Leopoldo Bataoil, who headed the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), described the encounter as the “bloodiest fire fight between the police and criminal elements in Metro Manila.”
Father and daughter
Among the civilians killed were 53-year-old Alfonso de Vera and his 7-year-old daughter Lia Allana. Witnesses said the De Veras were killed by agents who apparently mistook their Isuzu Crosswind for one of the getaway cars of the suspected robbers.
Initial findings showed that about 80 bullets hit the De Veras and their vehicle.
The other civilians killed were Bernard Tuncab, Jesery Vicemayor and Arnel Macaloan.
Operatives of the PNP Highway Patrol Group (HPG), PNP Special Action Force, NCRPO and Southern Police District were sent to the United Parañaque Subdivision 4 following a tip that a warehouse of Southern Transport Co. in the subdivision would be robbed.
On Dec. 11, 2008, the National Police Commission (Napolcom) said the PNP violated the rules of engagement when it failed to install blockades that would have protected civilians from an anticipated shoot-out.
The Napolcom also noted there was no ambulance on standby to attend to those who would be hurt.
On Feb. 17, 2009, the CHR, which was conducting a separate probe, threatened to cite in contempt 33 HPG members for failing to attend a public hearing on the shoot-out.
Two days later, the PNP Internal Affairs Service (IAS) charged nine HPG members with grave misconduct and neglect of duty, and eight others with dishonesty for giving false testimony.
PO1 Elybeer Cabayan was charged with grave misconduct and dishonesty after it was discovered that a bullet recovered near the older De Vera’s head was fired from Cabayan’s .45 cal. pistol.
Cabayan had told the IAS that he was 2 kilometers away from De Vera’s vehicle at the time of the shoot-out.
On April 3, 2009, the policemen charged by the IAS appeared at a CHR public hearing but invoked their right to remain silent. Inquirer Research
Source: Inquirer Archives