A 15-YEAR-OLD boy who was allegedly armed with a caliber .45 handgun was wounded in what police described as a shootout in Damiana’s Compound, Barangay Guadalupe, Cebu City last Saturday evening.
However, John (real name withheld) and his family denied the accusations, saying that he was only loitering in the area.
“Nag stand-by rako (I was just in the area),” he said, adding that he had just played DOTA, an online game.
When asked why he ran away, John said that he was scared by the police.
John was hit by a bullet in his back while being chased by the police, who rounded up some persons as part of an anti-drug operation at 8:45 p.m. last Saturday.
The victim’s sister, 21, who asked not to be named, said that a policeman visited her brother in the hospital after the incident.
“Nag offer sila nga sila’y bahala sa blood ug sa hospital fees but we can pay (They offered to provide blood and the hospital fees but we can pay),” she said.
The family expressed willingness to file criminal charges against the police involved in the incident.
John, a Grade 10 student, denied that he owned a gun and was involved in the drug trade.
In the police’s defense, the chief of the City Intelligence Branch (CIB) said that John ran away when they declared themselves as policeman.
“Huminto yung personnel natin and declared na mga pulis sila tapos biglang tumakbo yung minor (Our personnel stopped and declared that they were police, and suddenly the minor ran away),” Chief Insp. Cristopher Navida told Sun.star Cebu.
The police then chased John down a narrow lane and the minor allegedly tried to lift his arm, which was holding the gun, but he found it difficult to do so because the space was tight.
“Nagkaroon ng habulan at yung act na pag-angat niya ng kamay na hawak ang baril, nag return fire na yung operatiba natin (There was a brief chase and when the police saw him lifting his hand with the gun, they returned fire),” Navida said.
He added that the officers didn’t know he was a minor and that they didn’t intend to hurt him.
They allegedly recovered from John a caliber .45 pistol with seven live bullets.
The operation conducted by the CIB and the City Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Group (Caidsotg) stemmed from numerous telephone calls about an armed person and the presence of illegal drugs in the area.
The minor was already in stable condition inside a public hospital yesterday.
According to Navida, the minor’s father told him that his son was a good boy.
“Mabait raw na bata. Pero talagang runner kasi kung sasabihin niya na mabait bakit hindi niya nakontrol ang anak niya at parating nasa barkada sa disoras ng gabi (He was said to be a good boy.
But he was really a drug runner because if he was obedient, he would have been easy to control and not stayed out late at night with his friends),” he said.
However, Navida said that they will face any investigation if the family will pursue charges against them.
“We won’t deny them their right. We’ll answer this in a proper forum,” Navida said.
Navida added that a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera captured the chase and that they will use it in court.
Girlie Peñas, 38, and Dexter Verano, 21, were also arrested during the operation with several small sachets of shabu.
Navida said that the unit has strong evidence that the family was involved in the illegal drug business.
Meanwhile, Noel Delero, Mark Verano and Jonathan Labastida were also caught for allegedly playing an illegal cards game.
John Paul Verano, the subject, managed to escape when he jumped into a creek in his haste to flee from the police.
Recovered from him were a caliber .38 with three live bullets and sachets of shabu.
John’s family filed a complaint for frustrated murder in the Guadalupe Police Station and they are also planning to seek help from the Office of the Ombudsman.
In an earlier interview, Leo Villarino of the Commission of Human Rights (CHR) 7 said there are already 300 alleged extrajudicial killings in Central Visayas.
The first case that was brought to the Office of the Ombudsman was the case of Jerald Cedeño, a 22-year-old suspected drug pusher who was allegedly killed by two officers, PO2 Arnold Cabildo of the Caidsotg and SPO2 Renante Nioda of the Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat), three months ago.
They are facing charges for murder and grave misconduct.