A FAMILY of three, including a 5-month-old baby and his pregnant mother, all died in a police operation in Tubod, Lanao del Norte on Monday dawn, September 11.
This, after the head of the family identified as Bevino Laride allegedly fought back when policemen arrived at their house in Barangay Taguranao around 4 a.m. to serve a warrant of arrest for attempted murder.
Killed on the spot were the suspect Laride, his pregnant common-law wife Virginia Delibo and their child, Rexjun. Police Officer 1 Yasser Macatbar was wounded.
Laride’s brother Jonel, his co-accused, was not around when joint operatives of Tubod, Lanao del Norte police and the Special Weapons and Tactics reportedly engaged in a firefight with Bevino.
Superintendent Lemuel Gonda, spokesperson of the Police Regional Office (PRO)-Northern Mindanao, clarified that the incident was not a “massacre” as claimed by social media posts that have become viral, “but purely a lawful and legitimate police operation.”
Police said the other suspect had been frequently sighted staying overnight at the house of Bevino. But during the operation, Jonel was not around.
Authorities said Bevino fired first at the approaching Special Weapons and Tactics team using his M2 carbine rifle, forcing them to return fire.
Macatbar sustained a lone gunshot wound on his left thigh. He was immediately brought to Lanao del Norte Provincial Hospital, then transferred to Mercy Hospital in Iligan City. He’s now reportedly in stable condition.
Recovered from the crime scene was the suspect's gun with a magazine loaded with seven cartridges used by the suspect and eight fired cartridge cases believed to be for a carbine rifle now under the custody of the Scene of the Crime Operatives in Lanao del Norte.
Gonda said the police respected the suspect's human rights.
"In the PNP's (Philippine National Police) doctrine in Police Operational Procedure, the use of excessive force during police operation is prohibited," Gonda said.
The PRO-Northern Mindanao maintained that there was already an imminent threat to life of the PNP personnel on the ground when the suspect started firing at them and there was no option but to use force to subdue the suspect.
"The use of firearm was justified considering it poses imminent danger of causing death or injury to the police officers. There was unlawful aggression, that prompted the police officers to return fire,” the PRO-Northern Mindanao statement said.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 14, 2017.