ONE of the three men who were killed in an operation against illegal drugs in Getafe, Bohol last month was laid to rest yesterday.
But before his burial, 22-year-old John Jason Montes’s casket was driven past the Cebu City Hall as a sign of protest.
Osmeña recently rewarded the Regional Anti-Illegal Drug Special Operations Task Group (RAIDSOTG) with P155,000 for killing Montes, Dario Torremocha and suspected drug lord Rowen “Yawa” Secretaria during an operation in Banacon Island in Getafe, Bohol.
Initial results of the autopsy on Montes showed no signs of overkill, but the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) 7 has yet to rule out foul play.
At noon yesterday, Montes’s casket was brought to the San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish in Barangay Pasil for the requiem.
Some relatives and friends who walked ahead of the hearse carried placards saying that Montes was innocent.
His father Victor said he supports incoming Mayor Tomas Osmeña’s all-out war against illegal drugs, but added that innocent lives shouldn’t be snuffed out.
“Wala ko’y problema kung ing-ana ang iyang pamaagi, ang ako lang nga dili unta maangin ang mga inosente pareha sa akong anak (I have no problem if that’s how he’s going to do it. But innocent lives like that of my son should be spared),” Victor added.
As the cortege approached the Calamba Cemetery, they saw a tarpaulin sign with the outgoing mayor’s photo and the words “Justice for Montes, Secretaria and Tata Negro! From Mike Rama, the people’s mayor.”
No one has claimed responsibility for the tarpaulin. Victor Montes said that his family had nothing to do with it or the placards carried by some relatives and his son’s friends.
“Dili ako ang naa’y pakana ana. Sila ra mismo ang naghimo ana (I’m not the one who ordered them. It was their own initiative),” Victor said.
For their part, CHR 7 officials explained that aside from the autopsy report that’s being drafted, they are also searching for additional witnesses.
Leo Villarino, CHR 7 investigator, told reporters that as of yesterday, they were trying to secure the testimony of a 10-year-old girl who reportedly witnessed the operation in Banacon Island.
This was the same child who reportedly saw how RAIDSOTG operatives shot Montes at close range, while he begged them to spare his life.
Villarino said that CHR was still persuading the girl’s parents to let her issue a statement.
Meanwhile, Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Patrocinio Comendador Jr. said the police will answer in the proper forum if the Montes family files complaints against them.
Comendador said that the police did not go to Banacon to conduct a rubout, adding they were only after Secretaria in their operation last May 28.
The operatives had to retaliate when the group opened fire, he said.
An intelligence operative said that Secretaria and Torremocha were buried in Banacon last Sunday.
Comendador, for his part, said he understands the grief of Montes’s parents, but that all parents should look after their children.
“We do not know unsa’y gibuhat nila didto (what they did there). Primarily, ang ginikanan unta’y magmatngon kon asa ilang anak (Parents should mind be aware of their children’s activities),” he told reporters yesterday. “Ako ginikanan man ko, pero akong anak kada adlaw gipangita ko na (I am a parent, too. Every day, I make sure I know where my children are).”
Comendador said he could not believe the claim that a minor had witnessed the shootout, since the operation took place at dawn.
He said it would be better for parents to look after their children constantly, rather than blaming authorities if something bad happens to them.
“Try to be parents, the right parents we should be,” said Comendador.