CEBU City is now conducting a hot pursuit operation against the suspects in the killing of an anti-narcotics operative during a buy-bust at around 12:05 a.m. on Wednesday, November 15, 2023, in Sitio Pagtambayayong, Barangay Kinasang-an, Cebu City.
Police Corporal Ryan Baculi from the Regional Police Drug Enforcement Unit Central Visayas (RPDEU 7) acted as the poseur buyer in the operation when the suspect pulled out their weapons and shot him.
Baculi was pronounced dead on arrival at the nearest hospital after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Janette Rafter, the deputy director for operations of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), said in an interview with the media on Thursday, November 16, that the CCPO is now tracking down the suspects as instructed by CCPO Director Colonel Ireneo Dalogdog.
Rafter said one of the suspects, Atong Rafols, was detained at the Operation Second Chance for a murder case when he was still a minor and was transferred to the Cebu City Jail when he reached the age of 18.
Rafols was released from prison after serving his sentence, but not before he was involved in another shooting in Barangay Inayawan, which is why the court issued an arrest warrant against him for murder.
Rafols was reportedly wounded in the hand.
The CCPO has assisted the RPDEU 7 in the investigation such as gathering evidence from the crime scene, including CCTV footage.
Rafter said that all police stations and special units in Cebu City will assist in the search for Rafols and Salazar.
There were reports that the two were sighted in Cebu province, which led the police to issue an urgent call for the public to come to their nearest police station right away so they could be taken into custody.
Police Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Ace Pelare, spokesperson for Police Regional Office (PRO 7), said they are verifying reports that a barangay tanod in Kinasang-an allegedly helped Rafols and his cohort Ramil Salazar alias “Namol” escape using the barangay’s vehicle, brought them to his home, and did not call the police even after Rafols was hurt.
However, this was denied by the barangay officials saying no tanods were involved in the incident and that they were trying to contact the owner of the house in Sitio Lower Paradise 2 that the suspects were renting out.
The tanod will be included in the investigation, though, Pelare said.
"Kining makaguol nga panghitabo sa pagkamatay sa membro sa Police Regional Office 7 nga si Police Corporal Ryan Baculi naka pasuko ug naka insulto sa tibuok pwersa sa PRO-7. Ang atong regional director Police Brigadier General Anthony Aberin mimando sa tanang kapulisan sa Central Visayas nga maghimo og walay puas nga pag gukod, walay undang nga pagpangita hangtod nga kining duha ka kriminal mabayran nila ang ilang sala nga nahimo," Pelare said.
(This sad incident of the death of Police Regional Office 7 member Police Corporal Ryan Baculi has angered and insulted the entire PRO 7 force. Our regional director Police Brigadier General Anthony Aberin ordered all the policemen in Central Visayas to pursue and search there two offenders nonstop to pay for their crime).
"We pledge relentless efforts to bring these perpetrators to justice, honoring due process throughout. Our commitment to this pursuit is unwavering; we will not rest, we will not sleep until these heartless killers are held accountable," said Aberin.
As a symbol of their grief for the loss of a fellow police officer, the Philippine flag is currently flown at half mast at the Cebu City Police Office headquarters.
The PRO 7 pledged to provide financial support for Baculi's burial as well as for his five surviving children, who are still very young.
Pelare claimed that every member of the PRO 7 will make a contribution for Baculi’s family.