THREE suspected drug pushers were killed in what police described as shootouts in Barangays Bacayan and Lahug in Cebu City.
Both SPO3 Filomeno Mendaros of the City Intelligence Branch (CIB) and PO3 Rodel Abejuela from the Mabolo Police Station were off-duty when they responded to a report about an armed person at 12:30 a.m. yesterday in Villa Leyson, Bacayan.
It was dark when they got there. When Abejuela and Mendaros identified themselves as police officers, one of the two suspects, identified only as Bitoy and Erning, allegedly fired first instead of surrendering.
Whether it was a shootout or a rubout, SPO2 Ruth Bongo-Violango of the Homicide Section said that their initial investigation showed it was a legitimate operation and that the suspects had fired first.
“That place has really been suspected of being a drug den but they (the police) haven’t caught the suspects in the act yet so yesterday, when they found out that there was an armed person, they immediately went there,” SPO2 Violango added.
When asked if he was worried about the killings of suspected drug pushers, Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Chief Supt. Noli Taliño said the operatives should preserve their lives first.
“Itong talamak na drug pushers, talagang lalaban sila (These drug pushers are going to fight),” he told reporters yesterday. “Yung ating mga pulis kailangan na depensahan yung kanilang sarili (Our police officers should defend themselves).”
“This is a warning to everyone, especially to drug pushers, This is an honest-to-goodness operation,” Taliño said.
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña gave the police P200,000 yesterday as a reward for killing four suspected drug peddlers, including the two who died yesterday in Bacayan.
“I will stop (giving cash rewards) when I am no longer mayor, or until my wife says, ‘Wala na kwarta (No more money)’,” Osmeña added.
Both Mendaros and Abejuela are Bacayan residents. It was one of their neighbors who asked them to check the place out.
Recovered from the scene were two .38 revolvers with live ammunitions and two fired shells, a weighing scale, drug paraphernalia, one plastic pack of marijuana weighing 0.3 grams and a plastic full of marijuana seeds.
Bitoy, who wore a white shirt and blue denim shorts, was found on top of a wooden bed while Erning, who was shirtless and wore yellow shorts, sat on the ground. Erning was said to be a motorcycle (habal-habal) driver.
The two had gunshot wounds on their torsos and were covered in blood.
Violango added that a barangay official confirmed that the police had recently tried to persuade the two to surrender, as part of Oplan Tokhang or Toktok, Hangyo. Under the program, the police sends out teams to knock on the doors of suspected users and pushers to ask them to give up drugs.
Last Tuesday, operatives from the CIB headed by Insp. Jovito Labra also killed an alleged drug pusher in a shootout on Salinas Drive, Barangay Lahug.
This happened at 1:15 p.m.
Police identified the victim as Robert “Obet” Suson, 28, who they said fired at the responding officers and caused them to fire back.
The operatives had received a telephone call about an armed person and when they sighted the suspect in Lahug, he allegedly drew his gun and fired at Labra, causing one of the policemen to retaliate.
A .22 Black Widow revolver with four live ammunition, 10 sachets of shabu and a syringe were recovered from Suson.
Suson was rushed to the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) but was declared dead on arrival.
Last June 26, Rodrigo “Dambo” Amampang, 47, a suspected drug pusher who was included in the drugs watch list of the Mambaling Police Station, was killed in another shootout at 4:30 p.m.
After the mayor handed over the reward, CIB chief Supt. Michael Bastes said he wanted to allocate part of it for some street children whose education some police officers are sponsoring.
“We are not after the reward but I asked them (personnel) if we could use the money for our street children scholars. We can use the money to buy their school needs,” he said.
Osmeña told the CIB not to worry about the street children and to use their reward money for their own emergency needs.
“I’ll take care of the street children in another way,” he said. He urged the police to keep the “P200,000 for four very dead pushers.”