'Tokhang' survivor files murder raps vs QC cops, informants

Elizabeth Marcelo - Philstar.com
'Tokhang' survivor files murder raps vs QC cops, informants
In this Nov. 10, 2016 photo, residents watch as funeral workers carry the body of one of five people killed in an alleged police anti-drug operation in Manila, Philippines.
AP / Bullit Marquez, file

MANILA, Philippines — Efren Morillo, the lone survivor of a police tokhang operation in Payatas, Quezon City in August last year, has filed a murder complaint against four officials of the Quezon City police and five of their alleged informants.

Assisted by lawyers from the Center for International Law or Centerlaw, Morillo filed his 41-page complaint affidavit before the Office of the Ombudsman on Thursday afternoon.

In his affidavit, Morillo charged Senior Inspector Emil Garcia, PO3 Allan Formilleza, PO1 James Aggarao and PO1 Melchor Navisaga with four counts each of murder, and one count each of frustrated murder.

Also named as co-accused were private individuals namely, Lea Barcelona, Lorie Barcelona, Mary Joy Ralo, Richard Riñon and a man known only by his alias, “Manok”. They allegedly told the police officers that Morilla and four of the victims of the tokhang operation were drug pushers.

The five private respondents also accompanied the police officers during the actual operation, and “Manok” even led the looting of jewelry and other valuables from the house of one of the victims.

In his affidavit, Morillo recounted how the respondent police officers, who were formerly assigned at the Quezon City Police District Station 6 in Batasan Hills, Quezon City, brutally murdered four residents of Barangay Payatas — Marcelo “Nonoy” Daa,Jr., Jessie Cule, Anthony Comendo and Rhaffy Gabo — in a tokhang operation in the afternoon of August 21, 2016.

Oplan Tokhang is a part of the Philippine National Police's campaign against illegal drugs.

It involves going house to house to encourage suspected drug pushers and users to surrender to police authorities or to voluntarily undergo rehabilitation program.

It was suspended early this year following the kidnapping and murder of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-Joo allegedly by some members of the PNP's Anti-Illegal Drug Group. The AIDG has since been disbanded.

Morillo, 29, a father of two and a resident of Montalban, Rizal said he was at Barangay Payatas that day to collect a debt from his friend Daa.

Morillo said it was around 3 p.m. when the four police officers, accompanied by the informants, arrived in the area and fired in the air.

The police officers then allegedly handcuffed him and the four victims before entering Daa's house.

'I played dead'

“After several minutes, the armed men emerged from the house carrying a piece of silver foil and a toy gun. They began questioning and pressing who among us owns the foil and fake toy gun,” Morillo recounted in Filipino. An English translation was provided in the complaint.

Morillo said he and his four companions denied owning the objects. It was then that the police officers removed their handcuffs and alleged brought him and Daa to a small makeshift room at the back of the house, while the three others were left outside the room.

“Suddenly and without warning, PO3 Allan Formilleza raised his gun at me and fired. I fell to the ground and felt a burning sensation in my chest. I became dizzy but I did not lose consciousness,” Morillo recounted.

“I saw him fire two shots at Nonoy, who fell to the ground beside me and started running out of breath. Then he fired another shot at Nonoy. Thoroughly frightened that I might be shot again, I closed my eyes and played dead,” Morillo said.

Morillo said he also heard gunshots outside the room and someone giving an order to plant evidence make it appear that the victims fought back.

“I heard someone say: “Huwag na ‘yan at sabihing nanlaban. Iwanan ang ebidensya,” Morillo said.

Morillo recounted that he was able to escape by crawling to a ravine located about three meters from the house and eventually reached the road and sought help from a passing jeepney.

Morillo said he was lucky to be given timely medical attention at Montalban Infirmary and at the East Avenue Medical Center, where he was eventually transferred.

“It is clear from the evidence that PO3 Allan Formilleza shot me with an intent to kill. The attached medical certificate shows that I was shot near the heart. The shot was directed downwards and there was an exit wound,” Morillo said.

“This means that PO3 Formilleza shot me at close range, while he was standing and I was sitting, as I have narrated,” he added.

Morillo described as a “blatant lie” the police officers' claim that he and the four victims fought back during the operation resulting to a gun fight.

Multiple shots at close range

Morillo said the autopsy reports on the bodies of the victims show that they were shot mutiple times at close range.

“The direction of the gunshot wounds are either downwards or upwards- meaning they were shot while either sitting down, kneeling, or lying on the ground. Most of the shots had exit wounds- meaning they were shot at close range,” Morillo said.

“These circumstances are contrary to what is expected in a shootout, where the victims should have sustained wounds with a straight trajectory, and where most would not have exit wounds,” he added.

Morillo said autopsy reports on Comendo and Cule's bodies even show that they were shot point blank in the face and in the right shoulder, respectively, while kneeling down.

“It is clear from the evidence that murder was committed by the respondents. The victims were killed with treachery, taking advantage of superior strength, employing means to weaken the defense and employing means to insure or afford impunity,” Morillo said.




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