First casualty? Agusan man shot dead at checkpoint

Ben Serrano - The Philippine Star
First casualty? Agusan man shot dead at checkpoint
In a televised address Wednesday, President Duterte had warned that the police and military could shoot troublemakers during the enhanced community quarantine to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019.
STAR / File

BUTUAN CITY, Philippines — A drunk 63-year-old man who allegedly complained about government food packs during the quarantine and made a commotion on Thursday morning was shot dead by a policeman at a checkpoint in Barangay Amontay, Nasipit, Agusan del Norte.

In a televised address Wednesday, President Duterte had warned that the police and military could shoot troublemakers during the enhanced community quarantine to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) .

A Nasipit police report said S/Sgt. Rolly Liones claimed he tried to calm Joenis Viñas, a resident of Barangay Amontay, who allegedly brandished a bolo and tried to attack him, even hitting the police patrol car with the bolo.

This prompted Liones to pull out his service pistol and shoot the man, the police report said.

Viñas died from a gunshot wound in the head.

Amontay Barangay chairman Jose Calipusan told police investigators that the victim had been drunk since the night before the incident, saying that local barangay tanods tried to pacify the victim, who was also making a scene at the checkpoint complaining about many things.

Calipusan said that at around 10 a.m., Viñas returned to the checkpoint, allegedly drunk again, and started a ruckus, this time in the presence of policemen headed by Liones who were manning the checkpoint.

Viñas’ relatives complained that the policemen should just have arrested or tied him up when he tried to walk through the checkpoint and should not have shot him in the head.

Relatives said there were many people, barangay tanods and government personnel at the checkpoint where the old man could have been accosted.

Police said they would conduct further investigation of the incident.

Probe abuses

The Philippine National Police has assured the people that the PNP will investigate all allegations of police abuses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said they are investigating their police units over alleged violations and abuses committed during the enhanced community quarantine.

“The PNP will investigate the reports. We assure the public that the PNP remains committed to uphold the rule of law and respect for human rights amid the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine, nationwide state of calamity and Bayanihan to Heal As One,” he said in a text message.

This comes as a video has been making the rounds on social media showing policemen in fatigue uniforms punching detainees who were allegedly curfew violators in Pangasinan.

Banac said they are still trying to verify what actually happened in that incident as well as the one in Agusan.

He added that PNP headquarters is also trying to find out what action has been taken by their regional units.

PNP chief Gen. Archie Gamboa said that all charges against the 21 arrested protesters in Quezon City will continue despite the plea from Mayor Joy Belmonte for their release.

Gamboa told radio dzBB said that this is to show that the police will not tolerate disobedience and disorderliness following the directive of President Duterte.

The 21 protesters, all residents of Barangay Pag-asa, were nabbed after staging a rally along EDSA on Wednesday to protest the alleged delay in the distribution of relief goods to their community.

The police dispersed the rally and accosted the demonstrators.

The City Prosecutor’s Office recommended the filing of charges against the 21.

The charges filed against the suspects were for violation of the public assembly law (BP 880), non-cooperation with RA 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act and disobedience of lawful order under the Revised Penal Code.

Charges for the violation of two provisions under RA 11469 or the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act were also filed against the protesters.

The resolution, was signed by prosecutor Irene Resurreccion-Medrano, recommended the filing of five separate charges against the arrested individuals.

Bail has been set at a total of P15,000, or P3,000 for each count.

Kristina Conti of the Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties said the processing of bail and release of the arrested individuals will wait until Monday as courts have been closed for the week.

The PNP chief said that it will be up to the President if he could be convinced that the protesters should be released following the request of Belmonte.

“They expect us to put orderliness in situations like that but later on when they are arrested, our policemen hurt – I know they were also hurt – and then suddenly you’ll say no, just let them go,” Gamboa added.

He said they have received information that the militant group that allegedly instigated the residents are planning to conduct another protest similar to the one in Quezon City. – With Romina Cabrera



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