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Tagoloan cops tied to Malitbog killings

By NITZ ARANCON
and JOEY NACALABAN
Correspondents .

CAMP Alagar yesterday said it would look into the deaths of three young men whose bodies were dumped in a ravine in Malitbog, Bukidnon, following allegations that the killings were the handiwork of a group of police officers from Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.

The victims — Don Remar Andales, 23, Vincent Viemer, 24, and Clifftord Abales, 21, — were found murdered past 3 pm on Tuesday in Sitio Saray, Bagong Silang, Sta. Ines, Malitbog town, near the boundaries of Bukidnon and Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.

A villager in Malitbog stumbled on the bodies while he was gathering firewood.

The victims, who were from Barangay Tambobong, Villanueva, Misamis Oriental, were shot to the heads at point-blank range with a 9mm pistol.

Andales, Viemer and Abales were identified by their relatives.

Scene of the Crime Operatives medicolegal Christian Caballes said the victims were already in a state of decomposition when they were found on Tuesday.

One of victims’ relatives alleged that she was aware that Andales and his friends were picked up by a group of Tagoloan police officers at around 8 pm on Sunday. This paper is withholding the name of the relative for security reasons.

She said the victims were in the house of a friend, Rosemarie Pantonial, at  Zone 4, Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental, at that time.

“They were inside the house when the police came,” she said.

A brother of one of the victims said, “Akong naestorya ang usa sa mga kauban pag inum sa akong igsoon. Ingon siya nakita niya ang akong igsoon ug mga kauban giimbistigar sulod sa estasyon sa pulis. Pagkahuman adto gipasakay sila sa patrol car. Naunsa na ba ni nga nangakita naman sila nga mga patay na?”

Chief Insp. Allan Oniana, Tagoloan police chief, quickly dismissed the allegations, saying none of his men were involved in the Malitbog murders.

Oniana said the Tagoloan police would even help the victims’ families in bringing the killers to justice.

Supt. Surki Sereñas, Camp Alagar spokesman, assured that the regional police office would investigate and look into the circumstances surrounding the shooting deaths.

He called on the victims’ relatives and witnesses to come foward, cooperate with investigators, and trust that Camp Alagar would do what is right. He assured that there would be an “impartial and fair” investigation.

“We also offer our assistance to them and assure them of our sincere desire to give justice to the victims. We just have to approach the  issue in proper forum,” Sereñas said.

He said the allegations against the Tagoloan police were “serious” and would need to be proven in court.

“If there are evidence that would merit the filing of case against any of our personnel, we will not get in the way. It is also our desire to give justice to the victims,” said Sereñas, adding that the National Police would never sanction vigilante-style  killings. “There is no state-sanctioned killing. The PNP does not condone vigilante-type killing and strongly condemn it.”

Meanwhile, Chief Insp. Oniana said a victim of snatching went to the police station to complain, and his men subsequently arrested a certain Corvero.

Oniana said the names of Andales, Viemer and Abales surfaced during the investigation and they were brought to the police station.

He said the three men were subsequently released because the complainant only identified Corvero.

Oniana said many witnesses said the three men take a “tricab” towards Villanueva town.

He theorized that the victims were killed by members of a gang.

“Basin nangasuko ilang kauban kay gikanta sila sa ilang mga kauban ngadto sa pulis pero amo sa ning palapdan nga imbestigasyon,” Oniano said.

Malitbog police chief Hubert Tirol expressed dismay that the killers dumped the three victims from Misamis Oriental, in his town, saying the act tainted the image of Malitbog which is a peaceful town.

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