By JOEY NACALABAN and NITZ ARANCON
OFFICIALS yesterday denied a claim by a former police director that the Nov. 20 ambush of Regional Police Strategic Management Unit deputy chief John Michael Deloso was an attempt to liquidate the police official who was reinstated after the Office of the Ombudsman reversed its own decision to slap him with a dismissal order for gross misconduct.
Speaking on condition of anonymity due to security reasons, the former police director in the region called the attempt on Supt. Deloso’s life as an “anti-ninja cop” operation that carried with it a handsome reward.
In effect, the source said, the ambush was an attempt to carry out an extrajudicial killing to get rid of a suspected “ninja cop” in line with President Duterte’s pronouncements.
Just this August, Duterte sparked a controversy when he announced that he was raising to P5 million the supposed reward for each “ninja cop” killed.
Duterte was quoted as saying: “If you bring him to me dead, I’ll give you, no questions asked… or P3 million. If (the “ninja cop”) is still alive, I will give you P10 thousand and a kick in the butt as you go out.”
Deloso and one of his subordinates were arrested at Philtown Hotel here during an entrapment conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation in 2014. They were accused of extortion.
In early 2017, Camp Alagar dismissed Deloso and his subordinate SPO3 Ernesto Galleto based on an order from the Office of the Ombudsman that decided on the case filed against them. They had also been ordered perpetually disqualified from the government service.
In May, this year, the ombudsman reportedly reversed its own decision, prompting Camp Alagar to reinstate Deloso.
Three ranking police officials, including city police director Senior Supt. Nelson Aganon, dismissed the Gold Star Daily source’s claim and called it a speculation without any basis.
They said there is no such thing as extrajudicial killing or “EJK,” and the Deloso ambush was, to them, not an EJK case.
“Wala kaming information or evidence to support… whoever is speculating that it was an EJK. Besides, there was no such EJK,” said Aganon. He said the government does not accept that the killings that have been taking place are EJKs.
The Gold Star Daily source said it has become clear that Deloso and those who wanted him dead knew each other.
On Thursday, Camp Alagar spokesman Surki Sereñas said he and Deloso talked on the phone late last week, and the wounded official suggested that he was not interested in pressing charges against those behind the ambush because he was “happy” to have survived the gun attack.
According to Sereñas, Deloso was discharged from the Northern Mindanao Medical Center and he has since sought refuge in a safehouse.
Sereñas rejected the claim the the ambush was part of a supposed crackdown on “ninja cops,” saying this was far from what investigators were looking into.
The priority, he said, is for investigators to identify those behind the ambush and establish their motive.
Sereñas said of the claim that the ambush was an “anti-ninja cop” operation: “It’s all speculation. There is no EJK or, in this case, an attempted EJK, and if it is so, why? That is the question. I could not think of any reason.”
Sereñas added: “We are all practically trying to solve a crime. A special task group was activated. Investigators and intelligence are exhausting all their resources to dig deeper into the case. Other government agencies were called in to help the investigation. The government is spending money and using valuable resources in these investigations. If this is an attempted EJK case, we better stop this bull***t. It won’t amount to anything.”
He said police investigators were determined to solve the case. “We are serious and we want justice,” he said.
Cagayan de Oro police spokesman Mardy Hortillosa said he has heard from his “circle of friends” that the Deloso ambush was a case of EJK but he pointed out that a special investigation task group has yet to conclude its investigation.
“Walay may ingon niana nga information, kay wala pa ta evidence ana. Naa pata sa identification sa suspect ug sa motibo,” Hortillosa said.