Police ‘fired first’ in Mactan shootout-A A +A
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
THE drug suspect who survived last Monday’s shootout in Lapu-Lapu City claimed the wounded police officer fired first.
Romulo Marinay, 56, also denied he had illegal drugs with him when a team from the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office (LLCPO) conducted the anti-drugs operation past 4 p.m. in Barangay Looc.
Two suspected drug pushers, who were with him inside a black vehicle, died in the encounter. They were identified as Romeo Daleon, 30, and Marlon Yongco, 29.
While he admitted it is hard to prove who fired first, Senior Supt. Armando Radoc, chief of LLCPO, said he stands by the account of PO3 Joseph Villamor, who was allegedly shot by one of the suspects while approaching their vehicle to pose as a buyer of illegal drugs.
“Suspects normally deny charges against them,” Radoc told reporters, adding that an examination to find out whether the suspects opened fire is underway.
Marinay, who suffered gunshot wounds in his left leg and arm, denied he knew about the suspects’ involvement in the illegal drugs trade.
Speaking to reporters at the LLCPO detention cell yesterday, he said Yongco invited him to join the latter collect debt payments in Lapu-Lapu.
He said Yongco owed him P50 for his car-cleaning services, and that he accompanied the drug suspect in the hope of receiving the latter’s payment.
“Kung nabayran pa ko, dili ko mukuyog (Had he paid me, I wouldn’t have gone with him),” said Marinay, a resident of Barangay Duljo-Fatima, Cebu City.
On their way to Lapu-Lapu, Marinay said Yongco picked up a man he didn’t know. Police identified the man as Daleon, who was the subject of their buy-bust.
The operation was conducted after a two-week surveillance that allegedly involved buying illegal drugs from Daleon.
In Looc, Marinay said, a man in civilian clothes approached their vehicle and aimed a gun at them.
He thought the man was only holding an air gun until the latter fired it at Yongco, he said. More men then showed up and shot them.
Marinay said he heard no gunshot coming from the vehicle.
Insp. Rogelio Pineda Jr., chief of the LLCPO City Intelligence Branch (CIB), said they recovered 23 empty shells from a .45 pistol, five of them inside the vehicle, and 19 others from a 9mm pistol.
A .45 pistol, he said, was found near Yongco, who was occupying the driver’s seat.
Radoc, for his part, said Marinay will undergo a paraffin test to find out whether he had held a gun.
“He is hurling allegations just to escape the claw of justice,” the police official said of the suspect.
The CIB was preparing yesterday to file a case for possession of illegal drugs against Marinay.
The police alleged they recovered two medium-sized sachets of suspected shabu from him, and 13 smaller sachets kept inside the van.
Meanwhile, Mayor Paz Radaza lauded the LLCPO’s latest anti-drugs operation and assured the police of the City’s continued support in their campaign against illegal drugs.
In her regular press conference yesterday, Radaza also said the City will give recognition to Villamor, who survived a gunshot wound in his stomach. The protection vest he was wearing prevented the bullet from hitting his vital organs.
Radaza also hinted at giving financial reward to the police officer.
Investigators have yet to find out who shot Villamor as the suspects’ vehicle had tinted windshield and windows.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 22, 2014.