MANILA – A police chief who was recently removed from his post over the killing of 14 farmers in Negros Oriental was also involved in a controversial arrest effort that killed an alleged hitman 6 years ago, a congressman said Wednesday.
Erstwhile Negros Oriental police chief Col. Raul Tacaca was head of the Batangas provincial intelligence branch in 2013 when operatives tried to arrest suspected hitman Fernando Morales, who was killed for supposedly fighting authorities, said Bayan Muna Partylist-Rep. Carlos Zarate.
The suspect allegedly worked for suspected jueteng lord Victor Siman, said Zarate. Siman and 12 others were killed in an separate alleged rubout in Atimonan, Quezon that same year.
Morales' family, however, said police did not present any warrant before dragging him outside their home, where he was repeatedly shot.
Zarate noted that the operation against Morales happened in the wee hours, just like the simultaneous operations that killed the 14 farmers in Negros before midnight last Friday.
Relatives of some of the farmers also claimed that they were not shown an arrest warrant.
"Pareho ata ang pattern nitong ginagawa nila," he said.
(It seems that there is a similar pattern with what they are doing.)
Tacaca was relieved from his post over the Batangas operation, but was later reinstated.
Zarate said typically "nothing happens" when policemen accused of irregularity are removed from their posts.
"Ganoon naman kasi palagi ang ginagawa nila. Inililipat lang… pero after that walang nangyayari," he said.
(That's what they always do. The officers are transferred but after that, nothing happens.)
Sought for comment, national police spokesperson Col. Bernard Banac told ABS-CBN News that he will check Tacaca's records.
Zarate said there should be an independent investigation into the Negros operations and that police should release the names of all officers involved.
Banac earlier said the operations were legitimate and covered by search warrants.
The suspects were "involved in past incidents targeting policemen and soldiers," he said.
Aside from the fatalities, 12 others were arrested and unharmed, said the official.
A policeman was also wounded in the encounter, which "attests to the fact that there was really violent resistance coming from the suspects, which led the police to defend themselves," said Banac.