Operation that killed 3 young men in Sultan Kudarat legitimate, but probe ongoing

The Philippine National Police (PNP) maintained the legitimacy of the operation in Lambayong, Sultan Kudarat that resulted in the death of a son of a policeman and his two other companions last week.

But PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin, Jr. said there is an ongoing investigation on the alleged shootout on Dec. 2 in a checkpoint that killed Horton Ansa Jr., Arshad Ansa, and Samanoden Ali.

Based on the initial report of the local police, the three men were riding a motorcycle when they were flagged down in a checkpoint in Lambayong town.

The three allegedly ignored the policemen and allegedly even traded shots with them during the pursuit. Allegedly, police seized shabu from them.

The "nanlaban" version of the police was questioned by Ansa's father, a policeman assigned to the Sharrif Saydona Mustapha town who said that his son and the two others had clean records. He added that his son was a criminology student who wanted to become a policeman like him.

The local word "nanlaban" has gained a negative meaning in the campaign against illegal drugs as it is now being used to connote that the police would concoct a story to make it appear that the subject of their operation tried to shoot it out with the cops.

This started in the case of Kian delos Santos, a student in Caloocan City, who was executed by at least three local anti-narcotics cops and made it appear that he tried to engage the police in a gunfight by planting a gun near his cadaver.

The three Caloocan City policemen involved were convicted of murder in 2018.

Last month, a policeman was also convicted by a Caloocan City court for planting evidence on a UP student and another teenager who were killed but were made to appear that they were armed and robbed a taxi driver.

In the case of the son of a policeman and two others in Sultan Kudarat, Azurin said there was really an encounter that happened based on the report of the local police.

"They ignored the checkpoint and when they were chased, they fired at our policemen, that's why there was an encounter," said Azurin.

But he said they will wait for the result of the investigation of the Internal Affairs Service (IAS).

"Anyway, there is a motu proprio investigation in cases like this and if there were lapses on the part of the PNP, the policemen involved will be investigated," said Azurin.