Manila Police vows in-depth probe on shootout with drug suspects in Tondo » Manila Bulletin News



By Jaimie Rose Aberia and Aaron Recuenco 

The Manila Police District (MPD) assured the public that that it will conduct an in-depth investigation on the illegal drugs sting that happened last month in Tondo, Manila after an international news agency released closed-circuit television (CCTV) footages of the operation.

A boy sits near the spot where Rolando Arellano Campo, Sherwin Bitas and Ronnie Cerbito were killed during a police drug operation captured on CCTV in Tondo, Manila on October 13, 2017. (REUTERS/Dondi Tawatao / MANILA BULLETIN)

A report from the MPD Crimes Against Persons Investigation Section showed that at 12:50 p.m. of October 11, three suspected drug personalities namely 60-year-old Rolando Campo, Sherwin Bitas, 34, and one alias “Kalbo” were reportedly killed after opening fire at men from MPD Station 2 when they sensed the ongoing buy-bust operation.

Elizabeth, wife of Campo, in an interview with Manila Bulletin, admitted that her husband was a drug user, but stopped the vice five years ago.

The footages also showed cops in civilian clothes asking witnesses to leave before proceeding with the “operation.”

“Police say they only use deadly force in self-defense, but a series of investigations by Reuters suggest they are summarily executing people,” the Reuters report said.

A police officer was also seen adjusting a CCTV camera from the alley.  Reuters said Station 2 commander Santiago Pascual explained that the camera was “averted for a ‘valid security reason’ and to ensure that the operation was not compromised.”

Pascual also told Reuters that a station investigation showed that the operation was legitimate, and that correct operational procedure was followed.

MPD spokesperson Erwin Margarejo refused to confirm if such investigation was made but said that due process of law and presumption of regularity in the conduct of police operational procedures will be followed.

“If evidence warrants against those personnel involved, we will file necessary cases against them,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) vowed that there will be no cover up on its investigation.

PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa said he has not yet seen the video footage which was included in the Reuters news report.

In the video footage, at least 15 armed policemen were seen clearing an area in Tondo, Manila before the three drug suspects were reportedly shot dead.

Manila Police District director Chief Supt. Joel Napoleon Coronel also insisted that it was a legitimate operation.

“The operation was conducted with barangay officials and tanods (barangay security officers) themselves. So far, our reports indicate that we have observed the police operating procedures,” he added.

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