Caloocan policemen in killing of 'shirtless man' relieved

MANILA, Philippines – The Caloocan City policemen involved in the killing of a "shirtless" man on Friday, December 1,  have been "administratively relieved," Caloocan Chief Jemar Modequillo said on Monday, December 4.

Modequillo, however, clarified that the two cops, PCI Narciso Cajipe Jr, and PSINSP Jun Silvertino both of Police Community Precinct 6, will only be relieved while the investigation is ongoing to avoid any conflict of interest.

According to the police report, the two cops "accosted" Mario Balagtas and his two companions for violating the City Ordinance #0439 which prescribes a dress code prohibiting roaming the streets half-naked.

As the cops appoached them the three suspects allegedly "scampered to different directions, prompting the lawmen to chase (them)."

Mario Balagtas, 32, ran into a nearby house. From inside the house, Balagtas fired a gun at the approaching officers, forcing PCI Cajipe to return fire. It was in the ensuing gunbattle that Balagtas was shot and killed. 

Further police investigation identified Balagtas as a leader of a robbery or hold-up group involved in a string of cases in Camarin area.

Still, Modequillo clarified that the victim was not specifically targeted that night as the cops were only conducting a routine Oplan Galugad. The street inpections were scheduled twice a week in Caloocan. 

"Alam naman nila na nagi-implement tayo ng mga ganitong bagay," Modequillo said. "Kung sabihing natakot, bakit natakot kung walang tinatagong masama?"

(They are aware that we are implementing this program. If they say they were scared, why were they scared if they were not doing anything illegal?)

Modequillo added that the incident was an isolated case as there were very few apprehensions in their ongoing Oplan Galugad.

"Perhaps there is one in every five, or even none," said Modequillo.

No more chances

In the same week, Modequillo said he has stopped implementing "the warning phase" of Oplan RODY (Rid the Streets of Drunkards and Youths) in Caloocan City, which penalized adults either caught shirtless or drinking in public, and minors who violated the curfew, with push-ups instead of actual arrests.

Modequillo added that rather than arrest violators, he would even give them the chance to mend their ways in the coming two months. 

However, Modequillo said he had to be more strict because some of those accosted refused to change. They had done way with the push-ups because many were still stubborn and hard-headed. "So on the side of PNP, no one is to blamed," Modequillo said.

"[I removed it] to let them feel na sincere tayo doon sa goal natin to have a better environment," Modequillo said. (I want them to feel our sincerity in achieving our goal to have a better environment.)

"For so long as may makikita tayong lumalabag [ng city ordinances], hindi tayo titigil [sa operations]." (As long as people break the law, we will not stop out operations.) –