BACOLOD City – Seven members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team of the Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO) involved in a shooting incident at Barangay Sum-ag were placed under restriction.
In a letter addressed to Task Force Kasanag (TFK) National Commander John Chiong, National Police Commission (Napolcom) Regional Director Atty. Joseph Celis said the move aims to ensure an impartial investigation on the incident.
A copy of the letter furnished to reporters here on October 9, 2018 stated that Celis ordered a team of Napolcom personnel to investigate the incident.
The names of the seven members are being withheld pending the outcome of the probe.
Chiong earlier asked the Napolcom in the region to conduct an independent investigation on the shooting incident.
In his letter Chiong said that he is requesting 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 persons 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 other 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.