Journal Group editor-in-chief Augusto ‘Gus’ B. Villanue (2nd from L) a turns over framed Page One issues of People’s Tonight and People’s Journal to PNP chief General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar (3rd from L) during the top cop’s visit Tuesday to the Journal Group office in Port Area Manila, Manila. The memento featured banner headlines of Eleazar’s assumption as the highest police official in the country. Assisting Villanueva are PJI’s ace reporters/columnists (from L) Paul M. Gutierrez, Alfred Dalizon, Jun I. Legaspi and Marlon Purificacion. Photo by JON-JON C. REYES
Gen. Eleazar thanks editor-in-chief Gus Villanueva for fair, balance, accurate reports on police force
PHILIPPINE National Police’s (PNP) ‘Mr. Clean,’ General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar on Tuesday visited the Journal Group office in Port Area to thank the company — which publishes two of the country’s leading English tabloids — for continuing its fair, balanced and accurate news reports on the 210,000-strong police force.
The country’s 26th chief of the national police paid a courtesy call on Journal Group publisher and editor-in-chief, Augusto ‘Gus’ B. Villanueva.
Eleazar thanked Villanueva for seeing to it that People’s Journal and People’s Tonight remained as ‘everybody’s newspaper’ and brought inspiring news about the force. The top cop was also grateful that both tabloids remained as pillars when it comes to ‘constructive criticisms’ about the PNP.
This as the PNP is embarking on a massive transformation program to become a more credible, effective and efficient police force.
The PNP chief was accompanied by PNP Public Information Office chief and PNP spokesperson, Brigadier Gen. Ronaldo E. Olay and Manila Police District director, Brig. Gen. Leo M. Francisco in his tete-a-tete with Villanueva, People’s Tonight managing editor, Ma. Teresa L. Lardizabal and senior Journal Group reporters and correspondents.
Known for his Intensified Cleanliness Program which aims to bring cleanliness in police stations and offices inside and out while producing honest and hardworking police officers and men, Gen. Eleazar said he is seeing to it that there will be full transparency in all police activities.
He added that they need the full cooperation of the public not only in helping prevent criminality in the streets but also when it comes to giving reliable statements to police investigators with the end in view of sending to jail persons who are responsible for a given crime, whether they are policemen or not.
ECHOES DU30’S ORDER TO DO WHAT IS ONLY RIGHT
Gen. Eleazar echoed President Duterte’s instruction to him when the latter designated him as the 26th PNP chief: Just do what is right. Just do what is legal.
The top cop said that the Commander-in-Chief’s instruction to him is the reason why he is bent on investigating all allegations of irregularity in the performance of duty by his men.
He particularly cited the June 16 operation in Biñan City in Laguna which led to the killing of two suspects, one of them a 16-year old male.
The PNP chief said the family of slain Laguna drug trafficker Antonio Dalit alias ‘Tala’ is no longer interested in pursuing criminal or administrative cases against local policemen who gunned down the latter.
However, the top cop again called on witnesses in the bloody shootout to surface and formally give their statements to the PNP Internal Affairs Service and the Special Investigation Task Group created by Police Regional Office 4-A director, Brigadier Gen. Eliseo DC Cruz to investigate the operation amid claims made before the media that a 2nd suspect, 16-year old Jhondi Helis was already in handcuffs when killed.
“There is an ongoing investigation in that Biñan City, the probe is still ongoing although we have found some revealing facts including the violent resistance offered by Dalit which endangered the lives of our officers,” Gen. Eleazar said.
Dalit has been identified as one of Laguna’s 10 most wanted persons. He was considered as an ‘armed and dangerous drug trafficker’ prior to the June 16 shootout.
Gen. Eleazar said that there were no ligature markings found on the two slain suspects contrary to claims by some people who were interviewed by the press that they were already handcuffed before being shot.
“Napakasensitive natin diyan kasi lalo na me isang bata ang namatay. Pero based on the sworn statement given to the SITG, walang nagsasabing me pinatay na nakaposas na. But we want to find out the truth, that’s why we want witnesses to come forward,” he said.
According to the top cop, the PRO4-A fact-finding investigation task group has reported that Dalit’s family, particularly the drug suspect’s sister, has expressed no interest in pursuing complaints against the Laguna police operatives for the death of their kin.
“Lydia Dalit said the family believes there was no overkill and that they are aware that Tala is a known drug pusher and ex-convict,” Gen. Eleazar said.
On the other hand, the PNP chief pointed out that Helis’ mother, Cristina, asked for more time to file a complaint-affidavit with the task group and requested investigators to obtain her sworn statement until after the teenager’s burial on July 1.
Gen. Eleazar said that an autopsy conducted by the Regional Crime Laboratory Office of PRO-4A found no other distinct marking, including signs of being handcuffed, on the bodies of Dalit and Helis apart from the bullet wounds they suffered. Both also tested for gunpowder nitrates.
But despite the findings, he continued his appeal to witnesses to come forward and provide their sworn statements on claims that the two were handcuffed when they were shot by operatives of the Laguna Police Intelligence Unit (PIU).
Eleven members of the Laguna PIU, who took part in the operation for the arrest of Dalit, remain under restrictive custody of the PRO 4-A and are being investigated for grave irregularity in the performance of duty.
According to Gen. Eleazar, the results of the PRO4-A investigation are proof that the police organization is serious in finding out the truth behind the incident.
The PRO4-A Regional Crime Laboratory reported that the slugs specimen taken from the cadaver of Helis matched with a caliber. 45 gun submitted by one of the 11 operatives.
Gen. Eleazar however said they want to determine if whether or not there was indeed an exchange of gunfire between the police operatives and the two slain subjects of police operation. Another is the need to investigate charges that Helis was handcuffed at the time he was shot.
The top cop said that it was concerning that there seemed to be many witnesses to the incident in the video uploaded on social media, based on the audible chatting on the video’s background, but none of them have come forward to actually give their statements.