A POLICEMAN who had gone absent without leave (Awol) and linked to the illegal drug trade was shot to death while his companion-policemen and the latter’s teenage son were injured by several unidentified assailants on Yulo Street in Barangay 16, Bacolod City Saturday night.
Killed was Police Officer 1 (PO1) Federico Nicolas of Barangay Alangilan, a level two high-value target of Police Regional Office (PRO)-18, who was also under the drugs watchlist of Bacolod City Police Office (BCPO).
Nicolas was previously named by Senior Superintendent Jack Wanky, acting director of BCPO, as one of the identified protectors of illegal drug operations in the city.
Injured was PO1 Wilmer Bansag, 46, of Barangay Banago, a member of PRO-18 Support Group, and his 17-year-old son. Bansag has been out on bail for frustrated murder.
Police said that around 9:30 p.m., the victims were on board a gray Mitsubishi Adventure driven by Nicolas being tailed by a white Toyota Vios without plate number in front of a public elementary school on Yulo Street.
Five to seven men were said to be onboard the Toyota Vios, that waylaid Nicolas’s vehicle and then men fired at him.
Nicolas went down and tried to get away, but he was chased and gunned down behind his vehicle, reports said.
His two companions sustained minor wounds.
A white Nissan Frontier Navarra pick-up parked nearby was damaged by stray bullets.
Police recovered from Nicolas’s vehicle a cellular phone, an electric drill, a bag containing tools, another bag containing documents, keys, a .45 caliber pistol with a magazine containing eight live ammunition, 49 assorted fired cartridges, and a black widow revolver with .9mm ammunition.
Also found in Nicolas's possession at a hospital, where he was declared dead, were two sachets of suspected shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride), drug paraphernalia, a wrist watch, a flash drive, and P5,250 in cash.
Meanwhile, Bansag’s police-issue Glock 17 gun with a magazine and .9mm ammunition, and Nicolas's vehicle were placed in police custody.
Wanky had earlier said that Nicolas was the source of illegal drugs being peddled by brothers Dindo and Dennis Barcillo, who were arrested in a drug bust that led to the recovery of P700,000 and P3 million worth of shabu, last August 2 and May 9, respectively.
Wanky said they are still gathering information to determine the motive, but based on the information they received, the incident might have been triggered by Nicolas's failure to pay his debt with other members of their drug group.
“If indeed, the information is true, it could be positive to the police because we were able to track him down. Still, we will conduct a thorough investigation because he (Nicolas) deserves justice," he added.
The police is also investigating the connection between Nicolas and Bansag to establish if they were engaged together in an illegal activity.