BACOLOD City – Task Force Kasanag (TFK) national commander John Chiong asked the National Police Commission (Napolcom) in Western Visayas to conduct an independent investigation on a deadly shooting incident last week.
TFK is an anti-corruption and crime group.
The incident involved suspected hold-uppers and the PNP Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team that led to the deaths of three persons and injured three others.
In his letter addressed to Police Regional Office (PRO)-6 director, Chief Supt. John Bulalacao, Chiong stated that he is asking for “an independent investigation in the name of justice and transparency and to avoid whitewash in the shootout that happened last August 10, 2018 in front of the Sum-ag National High School.”
Three were killed – two suspected robbers Ryan Alib, 24, and Armel Espadon, 30, of Murcia, Negros Occidental; and Delfin Ortiz 70, a trisikad driver who was hit by a stray bullet.
Three persons were also injured Mekaila Malabor, a daughter of Isabela town Mayor Joselito Malabor; Walter Dojena, a seaman; and Estrella Claridad.
Claridad was hit in her right arm, Dojena in his legs, and Malabor in her left thigh, a police report indicated.
Chiong cited the PNP motto “To serve and to protect” in saying that if the police officers are well-trained and the operations are well-planned, innocent civilians could have been spared.
“Through your independent investigation we can achieve justice and transparency in behalf of those who died and the injured civilians as well,” Chiong said.
Earlier, witnesses told reporters that police officers fired M-16 Armalite rifles against two suspected hold-uppers armed with .38-caliber revolvers.
The shootout also happened amid the presence of passersby, including high school students.
Recovered from the scene were about 23 spent shells and slugs of caliber .9 mm pistols and 5.56 mm ammunition.
SOCO personnel also recovered from the crime scene two .38-caliber revolvers, a Kawasaki motorcycle without plate number, P 39,460 cash, and a cellular phone.
Police investigation showed that Alib and Espadon robbed a delivery van of Japanese Tobacco Inc. at Purok Maghili-ugyon, Barangay Taloc, Bago City.
Commuters who saw the robbery incident notified the police and a 7-man SWAT team, conducting a border control patrol in Barangay Sum-ag responded.
A chase ensued until the suspects on board a blue Kawasaki Barako motorcycle were cornered at Abuanan Road, Purok Nami Nami Uno.
Witnesses told reporters that the motorcycle-riding suspects were already on the ground when men wearing SWAT uniforms opened fire at them. Houses in the area were also riddled with bullets.