Lapu-Lapu police may face libel rap over ‘labeling’

POLICE had no intention of humiliating the whole Oyao clan when it named a drug group after the family, according to Supt. Rex Derilo, Regional Intelligence Division chief.

“That’s part of the validation. We have to have a name of the group engage in illegal drugs,” Derilo said.

He said they named the group after its leader after they confirmed the information through surveillance and other evidence conducted by the Regional Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Group and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

“We have nothing against them personally. Let us say, there is a Juan de la Cruz drug group. Should we arrest all persons with de la Cruz surname? No it is not way,” said Derilo

Atty. Rameses Villagonzalo, counsel of the Oyaos in Lapu-Lapu City, threatened to file a libel complaint against police for the labeling.

Villagonzalo, quoting witnesses, also said there was no shootout between police and Joel Oyao Amistad, member of the drug group that allegedly masterminded the murder of PO3 Antonio Inihao Jr. last Saturday.

Legitimate

Derilo, for his part, said the Oyaos have the right to file criminal charges against them.

“It was a legitimate operation. He (Amistad) reacted. Let’s give policemen the chance to defend themselves,” he said.

The police official added that he always reminds his men to be wary when arresting drug pushers because the latter are armed and not afraid to engage in a gunfight.

“We cannot afford to lose a police officer in our campaign against illegal drugs,” he said.

“Proof of innocence”

Meanwhile, Villagonzalo released to the media the decision of Regional Trial Court Branch 27 Judge Toribio Quiwag acquitting Domie Bonghanoy Oyao of illegal drug charges to contradict police’s claim there is an Oyao drug group operating in Lapu-Lapu City.

“The totality of the evidence presented in the instant case did not support accused’s conviction for violation of Sections 5 and 11, Article II, RA (Republic Act) 9165 since the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt all the elements of the offense. Accordingly, the presumption of innocence should prevail and the exoneration of appellant declared as a matter of right,” read Quiwag’s decision handed last Jan. 28.

Oyao was arrested in a buy-bust on Dec. 8, 2007, but Quiwag noticed irregularities in the operation: the policemen’s failure to call representatives from the barangay, media and the Department of Justice during the inventory of evidence.

The policemen, in their testimonies, also said the operation happened in Barangay Marigondon, Lapu-Lapu City. The media reports, however, said the arrest took place in the neighboring barangay of Basak.

“There was no hot pursuit mentioned by the apprehending officers to support their claim,” the decision read.

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