THE killing of Police Corporal Feliciano Yballe by his colleagues in the police force, which police officials claimed was the result of a misencounter, raises more questions than answers. Yballe, a member of the Cebu City Police Office Mobile Force Company, was shot dead by members of the Provincial Intelligence Branch (PIB) headed by Police Major Alejandro Batobalonos inside Yballe’s residence in Barangay Sudlon 1 last Wednesday dawn.
Earlier reports said Yballe was tagged as one of the suspects in the killing of another policeman, Police Master Sergeant Junard Cinco, a PIB member, in Media Onse, Toledo City last Tuesday. Cinco was with his wife onboard a motorcycle when they were waylaid by two suspects, also on board a motorcycle, who shot him dead. PIB operatives were able to recover the getaway motorcycle and a witness said it was traced to Yballe.
My source said PIB operatives were already in Sudlon 1 Tuesday afternoon pursuing Yballe, who was really their target. But the alleged encounter happened Wednesday dawn. Right after the “encounter,” Batobalonos announced that Yballe was the suspect in the killing of Cinco. But late in the afternoon of Wednesday, Regional police officials claimed that Yballe was killed in a misencounter and Yballe was not a suspect in Cinco’s death. Na-usab man ang estorya (The story changed).
Police Regional Office 7 Chief Debold Sinas claimed there was “miscoordination” and it was very unfortunate that it happened among his policemen. He said Yballe was supposed to serve as a guide for PIB operatives while they pursued Cinco’s killers who were hiding in the area as Yballe was familiar with the terrain being a resident of the place. But when PIB operatives knocked on his house, Yballe was alerted by the presence of armed men as the policemen were not in proper uniform. And because he had been receiving death threats, he thought the “armed men” were out to get him. Yballe got his firearm and attempted to shoot the lawmen, prompting them to shoot back at him.
According to Sinas, based on the testimony of Yballe’s wife, the policeman had been suffering from “paranoia” after he found out that there was a bounty on his head as he was on the kill list of an unknown drug group.
Misencounters happen when you don’t know who the other fighter is and you end up shooting each other. It is a bad or wrong encounter.
Okay. But how come Sinas’s announcement came late? He should have announced it earlier to correct the mis-impression that Yballe was the subject of the operation as he was the suspect in Cinco’s death. There is a team of city mobile force assigned in the mountain barangay. How come the team sent to pursue Cinco’s killers did not cooperate with the mobile force company’s team? Since Yballe was not the suspect, did PIB release the driver of the motorcycle they arrested earlier, and who provided them the information about Yballe?
Why has Cebu City Police Office Director Royina Garma been silent about the incident when the mobile force company is directly under her command? Why were those involved in the operation immediately relieved and ordered to surrender their firearms and undergo a paraffin test? They should be given a fair deal and due process. Is Sinas insisting on the “misencounter” theory because he wants to help Garma since the incident is a big slap in the latter’s face being the commander? Or they just want to erase the public’s misimpression that it was a case of a good cop against a bad cop?
But is it true that Yballe was one of those policemen assigned with the mobile force company behind the strafing of the residences of BOPK-allied village chiefs in mountain barangays? He was also allegedly involved in the massacre of those involved in illegal drugs in Sirao last year. I am not accusing. I am just asking. Yballe can no longer answer the allegation because, as they say, “dead men tell no tales.”