UNKNOWN to the public, a number of policemen have been killed or seriously wounded in fighting armed drug dealers since last July 1, Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. de la Rosa said as he denied allegations the more than 500 suspects slain in gunbattles were rubout victims.
“We have several policemen who have been killed, some are in 50-50 condition after armed drug suspects fought them off,” said the PNP chief as he bared their preparedness to face a Senate inquiry next week regarding drug-related killings since the start of the Duterte administration.
Last August 3 Senior Police Officer 4 Edmar B. Bumagat of the National Capital Region Police Office’s Regional Police Intelligence Operations Unit was shot and killed by a notorious drug trafficker and hitman he was trying to arrest in Makati City, becoming the first Metro Manila policeman killed as a result of the ongoing crackdown against drug trafficking and abuse, said NCRPO director Chief Superintendent Oscar D. Albayalde.
“We have lost a good cop in our war against drugs,” said de la Rosa as he paid tribute to the ultimate sacrifice made by SPO4 Bumagat.
SPO4 Bumagat and other operatives of the NCRPO-RPIOU led by Chief Inspector Jojit Jumawan were trying to arrest Angelo Tampos, a known drug pusher and professional hitman on the strength of a warrant for murder when he fought it out with the lawmen inside his residence at no. 8256 Constancia Street in Barangay Olimpia, Makati City on the evening of August 3.
According to Albayalde, the RPIOU operatives were entering the gate of the suspect when Tampos immediately ran and tried to grab the firearm of Bumagat. During their scuffle, the suspect overpowered Bumagat and shot him in the head killing the officer instantly. Another member of the team, PO3 Aries Benico, retaliated and shot Tampos who died on the spot.
Albayalde said Tampos is known to be a ‘hitman’ and runner of one of the biggest drug dealers in Makati City identified as Norman Manete who is still being hunted. The NCRPO chief said Manete recently surrendered to the Makati City Police Station as a result of their Oplan: Tokhang but reportedly returned to his illicit ways.
“There is no substitute for life. No amount of assistance will compensate for the death of our policemen. But this is our duty and we will not stop. We will mourn but we will continue our anti-drug campaign,” de la Rosa told SPO4 Bumagat’s wife and daughter.
Albayalde said they are deeply saddened by SPO4 Bumagat’s death. “In our campaign against illegal drugs, we are also victims. These criminals are not afraid to kill to get even with the authorities. However, we are dedicated to do our duty and we will continuously intensify our campaign against crimes and illegal drugs so that others will live safely,” Albayalde said.
Last August 10, SPO1 Roberto Lacasa of the Amadeo Municipal Police Station in Cavite was also assaulted by an already-wounded drug dealer who overpowered him and threw him off a moving police patrol vehicle. As a result, the cop landed head first on the ground and suffered a fractured skull and internal bleeding and swelling on his scalp.
On Monday, Police Regional Office 4-A director, Chief Supt. Valfrie Tabian pinned the Medalya ng Sugatang Magiting on the policeman who is still at the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital in Trece Martirez City.
Cavite Police Provincial Office director Senior Supt. Arthur Bisnar said SPO1 Lacasa was overpowered by a heavily-built and intoxicated suspect identified only as ‘Tyson’ while he and his colleagues were trying to bring the wounded suspect to a hospital.
Another officer shot the suspect to death when he got hold of Lacasa’s weapon.
There were also some troops in Mindanao who were killed while conducting anti-narcotics operation like the two soldiers and a policeman who were killed while about to raid the hideout of notorious bandit-turned drug dealer Moks Masgal alias Commander Mabrook in Midsayap, North Cotabato early Sunday. In Cebu province, suspected drug dealers strafed a police station to avenge the arrest of one of their cohorts late last week.
WE NEED MORE BULLETS, GUNS, NOT TASER, CAMERAS —‘BATO’
Gen. de la Rosa also said he doesn’t’ see any reason why they should make it a priority to buy non-lethal weapons like taser guns and vest cameras as they continue their crackdown against durgs.
‘‘I don’t see any reason why we should buy Taser guns. Gusto ninyo kaming mamatay. Ang Taser gun eh okay lang sa unarmed/not dangerous suspects, halimbawa lasing lang,” he said in reaction to a television reporter’s suggestion.
He added that they won’t prioritize the acquisition of vest cameras which can record the operations of a cop wearing the gadget. “Hirap nga tayong bumili ng bala at baril, bibili pa tayo ng (vest) camera? Ang uunahin muna natin ay yung basic muna. Less priority ko ang pag-satisfy sa mgra critics ng PNP,” he said.
According to the PNP chief, it’s a reality on the ground that policemen going to an operation against cirminals must be prepared to kill or be killed.
‘‘We’re at war (with drugs). So we go there prepared. You must be ready to kill or be killed pag pumasok ka sa anti-drug raid,” he said.