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Tokhang survivor files raps vs 4 QC cops

Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - March 4, 2017 - 12:25am

MANILA, Philippines - The lone survivor in a bloody anti-drug operation in Quezon City last year filed a criminal complaint against the policemen and informants.

Efren Morillo filed the murder complaint against four officials of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) and five police informants before the Office of the Ombudsman on Thursday.

The Supreme Court earlier granted Morillo and families of four drug suspects a writ of amparo against the policemen, citing alleged police harassment on families of drug suspects in Quezon City under Oplan Tokhang.

The high tribunal granted the urgent relief sought by the petitioners and issued a temporary protection order (TPO) against anti-narcotics police officers. 

The TPO specifically prevented operatives of Quezon City Police District Station 6, which conducted the operation in Payatas area in August last year, from entering the residence and workplaces of the petitioners within a one-kilometer radius.

Assisted by lawyers from the Center for International Law, Morillo filed his 41-page complaint accusing Senior Insp. Emil Garcia, PO3 Allan Formilleza, PO1 James Aggarao and PO1 Melchor Navisaga with four counts each of murder and frustrated murder.

The lawyers said the families of the victims would also file separate criminal complaints against the four policemen.

Also named respondents are the police assets identified as Lea Barcelona, Lorie Barcelona, Mary Joy Ralo, Richard Riñon and a certain alias “Manok.”

The five civilians allegedly informed the police officers that Morillo and four of the victims of the Tokhang operation were drug pushers.

Morillo alleged the policemen and their assets had looted the house of one of the victims.

He accused the policemen of killing Marcelo “Nonoy” Daa Jr., Jessie Cule, Anthony Comendo and Rhaffy Gabo during a Tokhang operation in Payatas on Aug. 21, 2016.

Morillo said he was at Payatas to collect a debt from Daa.

He said the four police officers, accompanied by the informants, arrived in the area and fired warning shots.

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

“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 said in Filipino.

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.

“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 gave order to plant evidence to make it appear that the victims fought back.

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

He 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 “blatant lie” the police officers’ claim that he and the four victims fought back during the operation resulting in a gunfight.

He said the autopsy reports on the bodies of the victims showed they were shot several 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 shoot-out, 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.

Stand up

Tokhang, taken from the Filipino words katok (knock) and hangyo (plea), is the centerpiece of the Philippine National Police’s campaign against illegal drugs. It involves going house-to-house to encourage suspected drug offenders to surrender or voluntarily undergo rehabilitation.

Tokhang was suspended early this year following the involvement of several police officials in the kidnapping and murder of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo.

The controversial anti-drug campaign also triggered the killing of thousands of people by suspected vigilante groups.

The PNP said a resurgent illegal drug trade during the suspension of Tokhang could justify its reimposition.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) yesterday criticized the plan of the PNP to resume Tokhang.

“The internal cleansing by the PNP has scarcely begun and it has not yet produced concrete results. No true and meaningful investigation has been conducted on the extrajudicial killings yet and worse, no single person, to date has been held to account,” the CHR said.

The CHR called on the PNP to stop its plan to re-implement Tokhang, citing the thousands who were killed in the course of the campaign. – With Janvic Mateo

               

 

EFREN MORILLO
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