By Bonita L. Ermac
Tubod, Lanao del Norte — The provincial director (PD) of the Lanao del Norte Police Provincial Office (PPO) has admitted that his men had accidentally shot the wife and five-month-old son of a suspect, who was, himself, killed in an alleged shootout last September 11 and apologized for it.
“Hindi namin sinasadya (It was not intentional), that was purely (an) accident,” said Senior Superintendent Leopoldo E. Cabanag in a recent press conference to explain the encounter in Purok 6, Barangay Taguranao, here, that not only claimed the life of murder suspect Bevino Laride, but also that of his live-in partner Virginia Delibo and their infant son Rex Jun Laride.
“Humingi ako ng kapatawaran sa publiko, kung ano man ang pananagutan ng kapulisan ay haharapin namin (I am asking for forgiveness from the public. And whatever responsibility the police has to own up to, we will face it),” Cabanag added.
Cabanag said elements of the Tubod Municipal Station, backed up by a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, were dispatched to serve a warrant of arrest on Laride for frustrated murder at his residence last September 11 in Purok 6, Barangay Taguranao.
However, according to Tubod police chief Sr. Insp. Roland Donor, Laride “seriously resisted and successfully fired several times against the assaulting SWAT team, prompting the assaulting team to retaliate and fatally hit the accused.”
But in firing back at Laride, Donor reported that Virginia and Rex Jun were also hit as they were “lying beside (Laride).”
“They were unintentionally hit by a stray bullet,” Donor said in his report.
But this was debunked by Laride’s elder sister Jocelyn L. Jimenez, who said that her brother sustained 37 gunshot wounds, while Virginia was shot 12 times. Rex Jun was hit in the butt with the bullet exiting through his pelvis. Jimenez based this on information she got from the morgue where the victims were examined.
“Hindi naman natin kinukonsente iyong mga bagay na iyan (We do not condone things like this), but definitely ang operation natin ay legitimate. There was no intention to kill the baby and the mother, it was purely by accident, said Cabanag.
Donor and eight of his men have reportedly been placed under restrictive custody.
During the exchange of gunfire with Laride, PO1 Yasser Macatbar of Lanao del Norte SWAT was wounded in the left leg. He was still undergoing treatment in a private hospital in Iligan City, but is now in stable condition.
Recovered from Laride were an M2 Carbine rifle with a loaded magazine, and eight spent cartridges believed to be from the rifle. Also recovered was a caliber-.22 rifle.
Meanwhile, relatives of the victims pleaded for help for President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for immediate justice for their relatives who were victims of the operation.
“Mr. President, taga-i hustisya ang akong egsoon kay looy kaayo ang iyang pamilya gihurot gyud sila (give justice to my brother, take pity on his family which was wiped out), “said Jocelyn.