Witnesses in the killing of an 18-year-old person with special needs in Valenzuela City are afraid of speaking up about the incident due to safety concerns, the victim’s mother said Tuesday.
Helen Arnigo, mother of Edwin, a man with autism who was shot dead allegedly by police in an operation in Barangay Lingunan, said there are “a lot” of eyewitnesses who wanted to help them and tell the truth. However, they fear for their family’s safety.
“Inaano nila, paano sila makasiguro na mga pamilya nila ay safe dahil ang kalaban po ay pulis (They worry about how to ensure that their families are safe since they will go against the police),” she said in TeleRadyo interview.
“Takot po silang lumantad. Kasi ang pamilya daw po nila baka malagay sa kapahamakan (They’re afraid of telling about what happened because their families might be in danger),” she added.
Arnigo accused the police of hiding the evidence during the incident by taking her son’s cloth, which supposedly bore the fingerprint of the perpetrator in his killing.
“Gusto ko mahanap ‘yung damit ng anak ko dahil hinubaran po nila doon sa pinangyarihan ng binaril. Kinaladkad pa po nila…malayo-layo po. Pagdating nila po doon sa tupadahan, hinubaran po, wala na pong damit ang anak ko na pang itaas noong nakita ng papa niya at kapatid niya (I want to find my son’s cloth because they undressed him. They dragged him and as they got to the cockfighting site, they undressed him, that’s why my son was already naked when he was seen),” she said.
“Ang nasa isip ko, ginawa nila ‘yun, dahil ang fingerprints nila, ng pulis na ‘yon, nandoon sa damit ng anak ko, dahil ginawa nilang manok. Binibitbit nila ‘yung anak ko doon papunta doon sa tupadahan ng sabungan (I believed they did it to get rid of the fingerprints of the police suspected of killing my son from the cloth. They dragged my son like a rooster to the cockfighting site),” she added when asked what she believed was the reason police took away her son’s cloth.
The Valenzuela City Police Station (VCPS) identified the accused officer as Staff Master Sergeant Christopher Salcedo.
Arnigo also said her husband and one of their children rushed to the cockfighting site to get and bring Edwin to the hospital but police prevented them.
“Wait lang daw po, easy lang (Police told them to wait and take the matter easily),” she said, recalling what the police told them.
Manila Bulletin sought for comment from VCPS chief Ram Haveria Jr. He has yet to respond. But in a Facebook post, the city police station maintained that Edwin engaged police in a gun scuffle that led to his death.
Mayor Rex Gatchalian, who first disclosed about the incident before the police, said the local government will shoulder Edwin’s burial expenses as well as the cost of his autopsy as his family called for help.
“Kami na bahala d’yan ‘wag niyo nang poproblemahin (Don’t worry about it. We’ll shoulder it),” the mayor said in the same radio station interview.