TUBOD, LANAO DEL NORTE – Baby Rex June was supposed to have his first vaccination shot, according to health workers in this town.
Instead, Baby Rex June is in a small casket after he was killed in a bloody police operation last September 11 at their residence in Barangay Taguranao here.
Baby Rex June is five months old and he is lying at the house of his uncle, his small casket lined up with the coffins of his mother, 35 year-old Virginia Delibo, and his father, 32 year-old Bebino Laride, the target of the operation.
“Gidala siya sa iyang mama, for the first time, para mabakunahan didto sa health center. Wala pa gyud siyay bakuna sukad. Nindot kaayo nga bata, tambok, cute kaayo,” said Lovely Alandroque, a health worker.
Delibo, live-in partner of Laride, is also scheduled to have her first pre-natal. She underwent a pregnancy test at a friend’s house which initially revealed that she was carrying a baby in her womb.
“Gipabalik namo siya karong adlawa unta sa health center para among ma-check up kung buntis pa gyud siya. Posible nga ang babaye mabuntis bisan lima pa ka bulan ang iyang unang gi-anak,” Alandroque said.
According to police authorities, elements of the Tubod Municipal Police Station were supposed to serve a warrant of arrest for Bebino for a frustrated murder but the suspect supposedly opened fire on the policemen.
The policemen, members of the town’s Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) team, reportedly fired back which led to the deaths of the suspect, Delibo, and their 5-month old son lying beside them.
A police after-incident report signed by Police Senior Inspector Roland Donor, Tubod police chief, relates that the mother and son were hit by stray bullets.
One lead scout, Police Officer 1 Yasser Macatbar of Lanao del Norte Swat, was wounded on his left leg during the shootout.
Macatbar is now out of danger and undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Iligan City.
PNP’s Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco) recovered from the scene Laride’s M2 carbine with one steel magazine loaded with seven cartridges , according to the police report.
Authorities also recovered from the scene eight pieces of fired cartridge cases believed to be for carbine .22 rifle.
But the same police report did not state how many empty shells were recovered from the crime scene but Jocelyn Laride, older sister of Bebino, said her brother had 37 gunshot wounds while Delibo had 12 as relayed to them by the morgue personnel.
Baby Laride had a wound on his butt that seem to have exited to his genitalia area.
Meanwhile, the Laride family is calling for justice.
Jocelyn said her brother’s frustrated murder case was already dismissed by the court last August 22.
“Sakit kaayo sa amoa nga ingon ani ang gibuhat sa mga pulis sa akong igsoon. Imbes naningkamot gyud mi nga masulbad ang iyang pamilya, ma-settle sila sa iyang nasad-an, kay gusto na niya nga mamuyo na siya kauban sa iyang pamimlya nga dili na magtago-tago, tungod sa iyang anak. Gidamay pa sa mga pulis ang gamay’ng bata,” Jocelyn said.
Jocelyn said they are asking President Rodrigo Duterte to intervene so that a fair justice can be given to the family of her brother.
“Presidente, malo-oy ka, hatagi og hustisya ang akong igsoon kay looy kaayo iyang pamilya, gihurot gyud siya. Wala gyuy kalooy ang mga pulis nga naghimo ani,” she said.
In a press briefing, Police Senior Superintendent Leopoldo Cabanag, provincial director of Lanao del Norte Police Office, said they are sorry for the two unnecessary deaths.
Cabanag said maintained the operation was not a massacre but admitted that the operating team was there to serve warrant of arrest for certain Junel Laride, brother of Bebino.
“He is reportedly nandun palagi nag-stay sa bahay na iyon. In the pursuit sa kapatid niya na si Junel Laride na reportedly present palagi sa bahay nay un at during that particular time ay nandun daw kaaya nag-conduct ng police operation ang pulis ng Tubod MPS,” Cabanag said.
Junel Laride is at-large.
“Hindi totoong brutal ang pangyayari, walang pulis na gagawa noon, hindi sinasadya ang pangyayari. Ang operation natin ay legitimate,” he added.
Reporters visited the crime scene and saw a shanty whose wooden walls and bamboo floors were riddled with bullet holes.
A resident who guided reporters to the scene said a policeman or policemen may have fired from under the floor where an empty shell of M16 rifle was found.
Cabanag said, eight police personnel of Tubod MPS are now under restrictive custody including the chief of police.
“Humingi ako ng kapatawaran sa publiko. Hindi sinasadya ang nangyari,sana maintindihan ng publiko,” Cabanag said in a press conference.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 16, 2017.