War on drugs: ‘Duterte’ and men sued for killing father and son
Vince F. Nonato
A mother and her daughter (veiled in black and peach cloth) sues eight policemen and their informant at the Office of the Ombudsman for murdering her husband and her son.
Will this be a case of People vs. Duterte?
A woman who lost her husband and son to the government’s bloody anti-narcotics campaign has sued eight Caloocan City policemen and their informant at the Office of the Ombudsman.
The policemen, led by Northern Police District Special Operations Unit (NPD-DSOU) chief Supt. Ali Jose Duterte, were accused of murdering Luis Bonifacio and 19-year-old son Gabriel Lois at their house on Sept. 15, under the guise of a purported buy-bust operation.
The supposedly unarmed Bonifacios were allegedly killed during the operation after fighting back against authorities—”nanlaban,” as the police would explain the ensuing bloodshed.
Named as Duterte’s co-respondents were: Senior Police Officer 1 Joel Saludes, Police Officer 3 John Cezar Mendoza, PO3 Edgar Manapat, PO1 Aldrin Matthew Matining, PO3 Harold Jake dela Rosa, PO3 Billy Villanueva, and Police Senior SI Avelino Andaya, and Police Senior Inspector Avelino Andaya.
Also impleaded was informant Harlem Ramos, described by the daughter as a friend of both Luis and Gabriel Lois.
Besides the double murder complaint, administrative sanctions were also sought against the policemen for gross misconduct, grave abuse of authority, gross oppression, and conduct unbecoming of a public officer.
Bonifacio’s widow and daughter veiled themselves with a black cloth and a peach cloth, respectively. Outside the Office of the Ombudsman, Rise Up For Life and For Rights, a coalition of church-based community groups, denounced the injustice and human toll of the police operations.
“Maghintay si Duterte, si Police Supt. Duterte, dahil hindi lahat ng panahon ay panahon ng mga pulis (Duterte, Police Supt. Duterte should just wait, because the time of the police is not all the time),” one of the Rise Up leaders told the crowd. “May mga panahon po ang katarungan para sa mahihirap (The time will come for justice for the poor).”
Outside, Rise Up For Life and For Rights, a coalition of church-based organizations, protests the “anti-poor” campaign’s human toll.
According to the widow’s seven-page affidavit, 15 armed policemen, many of them covering their faces and wearing bulletproof vests, broke into their Caloocan City house on the early morning of Sept. 15, when the family was still sleeping.
The widow said the policemen barged in with their flashlights and long guns, and told the occupants that they were just conducting a “search.” Then, they allegedly pointed their guns at Luis.
As she and her younger children were forced out of their house, she said Gabriel Lois tried to plead his father’s innocence: “Bakit po? Papa ko yan. Wala kaming ginagawang masama (Why are you doing this? That’s my papa. We haven’t done anything wrong).”
Before being dragged out of her home, she recounted seeing Luis and Gabriel Lois kneeling and pleading for their lives, as they asked about their alleged offenses.
At the same time, her 18-year-old daughter, who was outside the house, called out to her while inside a van. This stirred fear that the policemen would abduct her amid the “raid.”
While trying to get to her daughter, the widow heard gunshots from their house. The widow said she tried to return home, but the policemen prevented her from doing so.
One of the policemen, she said, told her not to interfere because she would be “affected” too. At the time, Luis has died, but Gabriel Lois was fighting for his life.
The policeman also refused to tell her where the shot men would be brought. The widow only learned from the wife of a barangay kagawad that the two were brought to the nearby Manila Central University Hospital. Their death certificates stated that they sustained gunshots to the neck and the chest.
She said a Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) personnel even asked her if she pursue the case of her husband and son’s deaths, but at that point, she said she was fearful and had lost trust in the police.
While the incident report stated that a buy-bust operation took place on that fateful morning, the widow said it was a “raid, sona o tokhang.” She also insisted that her unarmed husband and son would have fought back against the policemen.
“Imposibleng manlaban ang aking asawa at anak dahil unang-una, wala silang baril at mahirap lumaban sa halos labinlimang pulis na armado ng mahahabang baril (It’s impossible for my husband and son to fight back, because first of all, they have no firearms, and it would be difficult to fight 15 policemen armed with long guns),” the affidavit read.
The National Union of People’s Lawyers, who assisted Bonifacio’s widow, explained that the Caloocan City policemen shot the two men dead “through means of treachery, evident premeditation and abuse of superior strength.”
Several pieces of evidence, such as the death certificates, photographs of the cadavers and the bloodied house, and the incident memorandum, were attached to the complaint.
In a press statement, NUPL National Capital Region secretary-general Maria Kristina Conti said the filing of the complaint was “just the beginning.”
“The NUPL is set to file other cases in coordination with community organizations and church groups as part of a mounting grassroots campaign against recent rampant human rights violations committed under the ambit of the government’s so-called war against drugs, which only ever targeted impoverished communities,” Conti said.
Meanwhile, NUPL-NCR Adviser Julian Oliva said the accounts showed that the supposed drug raid was “peppered with clear violations of all known human rights protocols by the police.”
“The operation does not resemble at all a legitimate police operation. It is more reminiscent of the work of lowly, trigger-happy thugs which should embarrass any respectable police force in the world,” Oliva said.
Just last March 2, Efren Morillo, the lone survivor of an August raid in Quezon City, filed a criminal complaint against four policemen and their informants also at the Office of the Ombudsman. He was assisted by the Center for International Law, which, like NUPL, has also taken up the mantle of challenging the alleged police abuses that has characterized the government’s anti-narcotics campaign. #