GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/12 July) — Four policemen here will likely face criminal and administrative charges over the killing on Wednesday night of a criminology student whom they have mistaken as a carnapping suspect, an official said Friday.
Supt. Rolly Octavio, deputy city police director for operations, said their initial investigation showed that the four committed some lapses during a pursuit operation along the national highway in Barangay Baluan that resulted to the death of victim Randy Quirante.
He said the four policemen — Police Officer (PO) 2 Arnold Sua, PO2 Ariel Beldera, PO1 Rudyard Dequito and PO1 John Rey Daligdig – have been disarmed and relieved from their posts.
The four are presently in the custody of the city police’s personnel holding and accounting unit pending the ongoing investigation and filing of formal charges, he said.
The 18-year old Quirante, who is a second year Bachelor of Science in Criminology student of the Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Colleges (RMMC) here, and a classmate were on their way home to Barangay Spring in nearby Alabel, Sarangani province on Wednesday night when the incident happened.
The victim’s companion, whose identity has been withheld for security reasons, said they were driving along the national highway in Barangay Baluan aboard separate motorcycles when they were stopped by a mobile patrol team of the police station number 03.
The patrol team has set up a checkpoint in the area in response to a flash alarm regarding a stolen motorcycle in Barangay Lagao.
The witness said Quirante, who was only carrying a student driver’s permit, did not stop and instead sped away, prompting the policemen to pursue him.
“I heard some gunshots so I immediately proceeded to the scene and saw (Quirante) bloodied and with a wound on his back and chest,” he said.
He said they rushed Quirante to the Socsargen County Hospital in Barangay Lagao but doctors pronounced him dead upon arrival.
Octavio said the pursuing policemen appear to have violated the provisions of the Philippine National Police’s operations manual in the incident.
“They committed some operational lapses so I think we should also give proper justice to the victim,” Octavio said.
The official said they could not yet determine who among the four policemen had fired the fatal shot but noted that they all yielded positive to a paraffin test conducted on Thursday afternoon.
He said they are still waiting for the results of the ballistic examination on the three spent slugs of 9mm pistol and two from an M-16 Armalite rifle that were found at the scene.
“The evidences will tell (later on) who among them actually shot the victim,” Octavio said.
He assured that they are investigating the case “fairly” and treating the incident as a “major lesson for the entire city police office.”
Meantime, City Mayor Ronnel Rivera condemned the incident and urged police authorities to present the responsible policemen to the public.
“We will monitor the progress of this case to ensure that all those responsible will be charged and prosecuted properly,” he said.
The RMMC management, student council and militant groups in the city also condemned the killing of Quirante. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)