Karapatan calls for independent probe on police killings of 2 brgy officials in Camarines Sur

Karapatan called for an independent investigation on the killings of two barangay officials in Iriga City and in Buhi town in Camarines Sur in the course of police operations within a month.

“An independent investigation on the operations of the Philippine National Police in Camarines Sur is imperative, especially since these resulted in the killings of Brgy. Niño Jesus Capt. Elmer Casabuena in Iriga City and Brgy. Tambo Kagawad Froilan Oaferina III in Buhi. Based on the accounts of witnesses, there is reason to believe that their consecutive deaths are plain murder, using the “nanlaban narrative,” in course of the PNP’s service of search warrants and are not coincidental. Both incidents have the intent to impose a chilling effect on these communities, as what Oplan Tokhang and police raids, arrests and killings of activists had done on a nationwide scale,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

Froilan Saez Oaferina III, 45, kagawad of Barangay Tambo, Buhi, Camarines Sur was killed on the evening of April 25, 2021 after about 30 police elements went to his home to allegedly serve a search warrant. Witnesses account that the police brought Oaferina to a dark part of the house, and was heard pleading that he be brought to a well-lit area before they heard three gunshots. They were only able to see Oaferina’s lifeless body after almost three hours, with the police allegedly recovering a .38 caliber gun beside him. His family denied he has a gun.

On March 26, at dawn, Elmer Casabuena, 50, barangay captain of Brgy. Niño Jesus in Iriga City, Camarines Sur was killed after police forcibly entered their house, brought him in a separate room away from his wife and daughter before gunning him down. The police only searched the house hours after, using a search warrant issued by Executive Judge Maria Angela Acompanado-Arroyo of the San Jose City Regional Trial Court.

Both families also said personal belongings of Oaferina and Casabuena were missing after the killings, including large amount of money, cellphones and gadgets, among others.

“We support the call of the families for justice for Casabuena and Oaferina. If civilian officials can simply be killed with impunity, stripping them of their right to due process, what more the powerless and nameless civilians killed due to red-tagging or the bloody war on drugs? There should be a stop to these murders!” Palabay exclaimed.

The Karapatan official also said that with these killings, the PNP’s efforts to join or put up their own community pantries are deceptive and duplicitous.

“Nakakasuklam! The PNP plays with the word ‘bayanihan’ in their ‘Barangayanihan’ project to invoke the Filipino spirit of giving and helping each other. On the other hand, their hands remain bloody as they continue to kill in barangays and communities, plant evidence, arrest and go on with their tokhang, raids and red-tagging sprees,” Palabay said.