THE police officer who was killed in Barangay Sudlon 1, Cebu City was not a prime suspect in the fatal ambush of Police Master Sergeant Junard Cinco in Toledo City.
Police Corporal Feliciano Yballe was shot dead in a “misencounter” with members of the Provincial Intelligence Branch (PIB) in the early hours of Wednesday, May 1.
Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Debold Sinas reiterated his clarification that members of the PIB were in the mountain barangay the other day to conduct follow-up operations after they received reports that Cinco’s killers fled there.
Cinco was shot dead by two men on a motorcycle on the national highway in Barangay Media Onse last Tuesday morning, April 30, while he was taking his wife to work.
PIB members went to Yballe’s house to seek his assistance. When they knocked on his door, they heard gunfire from the inside, which prompted them to shoot.
“The team of CPPO (Cebu Provincial Police Office) proceeded to the house of Corporal Feliciano Yballe supposed to be to seek assistance and (to) guide them. However, misunderstanding among operatives from the CPPO and the Yballe camp occurred, which resulted in the misencounter... that led to the death of Yballe of the Cebu City Police Office,” Sinas said.
Yballe’s live-in partner said Yballe had been receiving death threats in the past few days in connection with his arrest of several big-time drug personalities in Cebu City.
A local official who is reportedly involved in the illegal drug trade and a drug syndicate had threatened to have Yballe killed. Sinas, though, did not name the official.
Because of threats, Yballe had become afraid and paranoid, the PRO 7 director said.
So when Yballe heard a knock on his door last Wednesday, he thought the worst. It didn’t help that when he peered through the window to see who was outside, he saw men in civilian clothes he didn’t recognize.
“During that night (3 a.m.), he did not believe it was the PNP personnel who knocked at his house because, accordingly, when he checked in his window, he saw several people in civilian with arms and he knew no one in the group. According to the CPPO team, they heard a shot fired inside the house that led to the exchange of fire and (the) misencounter,” Sinas said.
When the PIB members entered the house, they saw the victim’s bloodied body on the floor. They immediately rushed him to the hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.
Because of what happened, PNP Chief Police General Oscar Albayalde relieved the 18 members of the PIB and the Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit, who were involved in the encounter, pending the investigation.
Their firearms were taken for ballistic examination. They were also made to undergo paraffin and drug tests.
Before they were placed in the Regional Personnel Holding Admin Unit of the PRO 7, the Regional Internal Affairs Service was ordered to investigate the matter.
If found that the 18 police officers were at fault, they could lose their jobs.
Sinas said he understood that the morale of PIB operatives was low with the death of one of their members. However, he clarified that only those who were involved in the Sudlon 1 shooting were relieved and would be investigated.
Meanwhile, Police Colonel Manuel Abrugena, CPPO director, is looking for replacements for his relieved personnel. (From AYB of SuperBalita Cebu, PJB)