MEMBERS of the Cebu City Police Office and the Cebu Provincial Police Office are reportedly at odds with each other over the death of their colleagues, according to a Facebook post of Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña.
Police Master Sergeant Junard Cinco, a member of the Provincial Intelligence Branch (PIB), was gunned down along the highway in Barangay Media Onse in Toledo City last Tuesday, April 30.
Police Corporal Feliciano Yballe Jr., a member of the Cebu City Mobile Company Force (CMCF), was implicated in his murder.
Yballe was killed in a shootout with 18 PIB operatives in his house in Sudlon 1 in Cebu City last Wednesday dawn, May 1.
Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Debold Sinas, though, insisted that Yballe’s death was a result of a “misencounter” and “miscoordination.”
The police official said the PIB operatives received a tip that Cinco’s killers were in the neighboring mountain barangay of Sinsin, so they went to Yballe’s house to seek his assistance.
Yballe, who he said had become afraid and paranoid after receiving death threats, was alarmed when he saw armed men he didn’t recognize outside his door. That was why he fired, Sinas said.
Osmeña, though, believed Sinas was covering up the truth behind Yballe’s death.
Earlier this week, Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde ordered Sinas to relieve the 18 PIB operatives, including their unit chief Police Captain Alejandro Batobalonos, who were involved in the “misencounter.”
“Because of the murder of Cinco and now the attempted coverup, there is conflict between city and provincial police. The leadership is doing their best to hide it, but many of the rank-and-file police in the provincial force are angry with the death of Cinco and the declaration of a ‘misencounter’,” Osmeña said in his post Saturday, May 4.
The mayor read SunStar Cebu columnist Bobby Nalzaro’s column regarding the “misencounter” that resulted in Yballe’s death and admitted that “for the first time in a long time,” he agreed with Nalzaro that Yballe was “the real target” of the PIB operatives.
The mayor said he received information that Yballe was a known “tirador,” or assassin, for slain drug lord Franz Sabalones and was also connected to notorious gun-for-hire Jerome Labitad.
Osmeña said he got the information from the same sources who helped him identify the eight police officers from the Talamban Police Station who were allegedly caught on security camera mauling three men in Barangay Carreta.
Last Saturday afternoon, Yballe’s remains were cremated at the Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes in Nivel Hills in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City.
Police Major Chuck Barandog, commander of the CMCF, led the 21-gun salute outside the funeral home around 2:45 p.m. when Yballe’s body was transferred to the crematorium.
Barandog said Yballe’s remains will be taken to an undisclosed location around 8 a.m. on Sunday, May 5.
When asked about the development of the case, Barandog declined to comment, saying they were not the ones investigating it.
SunStar Cebu also asked Barandog if he knew what the PIB operatives wanted to ask Yballe when they went to his house, but the police officer begged off from answering.
“We are still in mourning,” Barandog said. (CTL with JGS, JKV)