‘Buhay pa sana anak ko’: Cops barred Jemboy Baltazar's father from retrieving his body

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
�Buhay pa sana anak ko�: Cops barred Jemboy Baltazar's father from retrieving his body
Photo taken during the wake of 17-year-old Jerhode Jemboy Baltazar in Navotas City on Aug. 2, 2023.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — Law enforcement officials barred the father of Jemboy Baltazar from retrieving the teenager’s body roughly an hour after he was shot, Baltazar’s mother said during a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

Roda Baltazar, the mother of the slain 17-year-old, told a Senate panel that Jemboy’s father attempted to dive after his son after a neighbor alerted him about the fatal shooting but was prohibited by men in Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) uniform from doing so.

“Gusto ng asawa ko na sumisid pero pinagbawalan sya. Mga 2:30 (p.m.). Siguro isang oras pa lang anak ko sa tubig (My husband wanted to dive into the water but was prohibited. This was around 2:30 p.m. My son was in the water for roughly an hour),” the mother of Jemboy said.

“Tapos pinagbabawalan sila na sisirin kasi baka nakalangoy anak ko. Inaabangan nila sa may tulay, dun nila inaabangan anak ko na lumutang. Eh hindi na lumutang anak ko ilang oras na (They told him that he was not allowed to dive after him because my son might have swam away. They were waiting for him to surface at the bridge. But he never surfaced after how many hours)," she added.

Her son might have lived if his father was allowed to immediately dive and retrieve his body, Jemboy’s mother said.

Jemboy died from a gunshot wound in the head, according to forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun, who conducted an autopsy on him. Drowning was also considered a “contributory cause.”

The 17-year-old from Navotas was gunned down by police on August 2 due to what they described as a case of “mistaken identity.” Human rights lawyers have since decried the use of the term due to enough evidence allegedly showing that police acted with the “intent to kill.”  

RELATED: NUPL: Death of Navotas teen should be prosecuted as intentional criminal act  

Roda said that her husband did not see the names of the police personnel who prevented him from approaching the water as their guns were supposedly placed in front of their name patches. But they were allegedly wearing uniforms of the SWAT team.

Jemboy's mother’s statement came after PCapt. Mark Carpio told the Senate panel that all 19 cops part of the police operation decided not to search for Jemboy, who fell in the water after being shot, because the teenager may have already escaped.

“Iniisip namin na since bangkero ito ay baka nakatakas (We were thinking that since he was a boatman, he might have escaped),” said Carpio, the team captain who led the police operation.

When Sen. Raffy Tulfo asked why no police personnel dived after Jemboy, Carpio said he was not good at swimming but was unsure of the other law enforcement officials present.

‘Lying through his teeth’ 

When Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa asked SWAT member Luisito Dela Cruz why they prevented Jemboy’s father from retrieving his son, Dela Cruz said a member of the team attempted to look for Jemboy but could not see “traces of blood” from the water.

“Noong sinabi ni Sonny Boy na, ‘Sir, yung kaibigan ko natakot, tumalon.’ Noong narinig ko yon, pilit namin sumakay sa bangka kung saan sya tumalon, tapos hinanap namin sya (When Sonny Boy said, ‘Sir, my friend got scared and jumped.’ When I heard that, we went to the boat where he jumped and tried to look for him),” Dela Cruz said. Sonny Boy is Jemboy's companion and a witness to the incident.

Tulfo scolded Dela Cruz who he said was “lying through his teeth.”

“Pinagbawalan nyo yung tatay na sumisid, that means alam nyo na lubog ang bangkay. So alam nyo for a fact na nalunod na ang bangkay (You prohibited the father from diving, that means you know that the remains were in the water. So you know for a fact that the body drowned), ” Tulfo said.

Carpio and another police personnel were held in contempt during the Senate panel’s first hearing into the killing of Jemboy last week after they gave contradictory and evasive statements on whether they saw the teen jump into the water.

Carpio told senators on Tuesday that at the time he gave his worn statement, which he later contradicted during the Senate probe, he had not been sleeping nor eating.

“You are trained as a policeman that your sworn statements must be correct before you sign,” Tulfo said. “Ngayon ikaw ay nagpapalusot na (Now you are making excuses).”

The chief of the Navotas City police, Allan Umipig, was earlier sacked after the Internal Affairs Services of the Philippine National Police found that he gave orders to conceal the involvement of 11 police officers in the fatal shooting of Jemboy.

Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos has ordered a review of the protocols followed by the country’s police force after Jemboy's killing.

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