FIGHTING erupted between heavily-armed drug dealers and the local police in Antipolo City on Friday evening leaving a police captain and two of the suspects dead, Police Regional Office 4-A director, Chief Superintendent Valfrie Tabian said yesterday.
Slain in the gunbattle were Senior Inspector Mark Gil Garcia and two of the suspects including a heavily-tattooed man identified as William Malana, 45. The second suspect wearing a black shirt and black shorts remained unidentified.
Tabian said the clash took place during the conduct of a buy-bust operation in Sitio Maagay 1 in Barangay Inarawan, Cogeo, Antipolo City at 7:45 p.m. Friday.
He said that members of the Rizal Police Provincial Office’s Provincial Intelligence Branch/Special Operations Unit led by Garcia were dispatched to the site to entrap a notorious drug dealer later identified as Malana.
The official said that the operation was triggered by information provided by some of the six suspects led by an Army soldier arrested in a series of anti-narcotics operations in Angono and Taytay, Rizal.
According to the Rizal Police Provincial Office, an undercover officer had just bought P300 worth of shabu from Malana when the suspect and his pal sensed the entrapment operation and ran towards the dark alley while pulling their guns and firing several shots at the lawmen.
A brief firefight erupted between the two groups until the unidentified suspect was killed. However, Malana was able to enter his residence and barricaded himself up. Officials said that being the team leader, Garcia led his men in entering the house but was immediately shot in his left upper thigh by the suspect.
Although wounded, the officer managed to return fire killing the suspect on the spot.
Tabian said that Senior Inspector Garcia was rushed to the Rizal Provincial Hospital in Cogeo where an attending physician declared him dead at 9:05 in the evening due to loss of blood.
Recovered from Malana’s possession were an improvised 12-gauge shotgun and a home-made pistol while the second suspect yielded a caliber .38 revolver with serial numbers 041352. Also found at the scene were 30 small heat-sealed plastic sachets containing suspected shabu, two improvised tooters, seven aluminum foil strips with shabu residue and P620 in different denominations.
According to the Rizal police, prior to the deadly shootout, the team of Garcia managed to arrest six men led by an alleged Army soldier named Marino Dragon Jr. during a buy-bust operation in Sunstrip Subdivision in Bgy. San Isidro, Angono town and another suspected drug dealer known only as alias ‘Kuba’ during a buy-bust operation along Isagani Street in Bgy. San Isidro in Taytay.
The death of Senior Inspector Garcia came two days after Philippine National Police chief, Director General Ronald “Bato” M. dela Rosa, said that unknown to the public, a number of policemen have been killed or seriously wounded in fighting armed drug dealers in the country since last July 1.
“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 tomorrow regarding drug-related killings in the country since the start of the Duterte administration.
According to the PNP chief, it’s a reality on the ground that policemen going to an operation against criminals 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.
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.
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.