GenSan councilors condemn killing of student in police operation

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 17 July) – The city council has condemned the killing in a police operation here last week of a criminology student who was mistaken by operatives as a motorcycle theft suspect.

In a resolution passed during its regular session on Tuesday, the councilors expressed their “condemnation and disgust” over the fatal shooting of 18-year-old student Randy Quirante by members of a police mobile team last July 10.

“The act itself is dastardly, cowardly and shocking to human conscience,” said Councilor Ramon Milleza, who pushed for the passage of the measure.

Aside from condemning the killing, Milleza said they separately passed two other resolutions seeking a speedy and objective investigation into the incident and expressing sympathy to the victim’s family.

Quirante, who is a Bachelor of Science in Criminology student of the Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Colleges (RMMC) here, was gunned down by members of the city’s police station number 03 in an operation along the national highway in Barangay Baluan.

Four policemen, who were identified as Police Officer (PO) 2 Arnold Sua, PO2 Ariel Beldera, PO1 Rudyard Dequito and PO1 John Rey Daligdig, have since been relieved and will likely face criminal and administrative charges over the incident.

The four are currently under the restrictive custody of the Police Regional Office 12’s regional personnel holding and accounting unit.

Milleza said the council mainly wants the city and regional police offices to ensure that there will be no “whitewash” in the investigation of the case and that it should be done in speedy and fair manner.

“Appropriate measures must be done to make sure this will not happen again,” he said in a radio interview.

He assured that the local government, especially the city council, is very much concerned with the incident and is serious in finding appropriate solutions for it.

The official clarified that the three resolutions have not alluded to or pinned blame on any individual but is focused on the act itself.

“We want to leave that (investigation and filing of charges) to the proper authorities. What we’re after is the act itself that we really cannot tolerate,” he said.

City Councilor Franklin Gacal Jr., who has been assisting the Quirante family regarding the case, said he has been coordinating with regional police officials for the immediate release of investigation reports and other documents in connection with the incident.

“We already have copies of the ballistic and paraffin tests and we’re still waiting for the release of the drug test and the cross-matching results,” he said.

Gacal, who heads the council’s committee on public order and safety, said he is personally following up on the case on behalf of the victim’s family and the city government.

“Mayor Ronnel Rivera and the city council are very serious on matters regarding the police and peace and order,” he assured.

Quirante and a classmate were on their way home to Barangay Spring in nearby Alabel town in Sarangani Province when the incident happened.

The victim’s companion said they were motoring along the national highway in Barangay Baluan aboard separate motorcycles when they were stopped by a police 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.

But he said Quirante, who was only carrying a student driver permit, did not stop and instead sped away, prompting the policemen to pursue him.

The victim was later shot by the pursuing policemen and died before reaching a private hospital here.

Supt. Rolly Octavio, deputy city police director for operations, earlier admitted that the involved policemen committed some lapses during the operation that resulted to the killing of Quirante.