MY family and I join the entire Philippine National Police headed by Lieutenant General Vic Danao Jr. in paying tribute to the late Staff Sergeant Nikki Codera, a member of the Masbate Police Provincial Office who died in a gunfight with a wanted New People’s Army member in Pasay City on Friday dawn.
The brave cop actually travelled for nearly 15 hours from Masbate which is 575 kilometers away from Manila just to help capture Hubert Aplacador alias ‘Ka Panggoy,’ a known NPA rebel wanted for a non-bailable murder case when he met his untimely death at the hands of the latter past 4 a.m. Friday. We grieve his death and again be reminded by the old saying: ang isang pulis pag umalis ng bahay, laging nasa hukay ang isang paa.” This is true, very true.
As pieced out by investigators, members of the Masbate PPO’s 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company led by Lieutenant Rogelio Walay traveled to Manila to serve the warrant issued against Aplacador by Judge Igmedio Fide of the Cataingan, Masbate Regional Trial Court Branch 49.
Thru the help of a tipster, the Masbate policemen, in coordination with the Pasay City Police Station tracked down the suspect at no. 157 P. Santos Interior in Barangay 157 in Malibay, Pasay City where Aplacador violently resisted the officers and engaged them in a firefight.
As a result, the suspect managed to hit SSgt. Codera and Lt. Walay before he was gunned down on the spot. As a result, Codera suffered gunshot wounds in the body and died while being taken to the San Juan de Dios Medical Center where Lt. Codera has been reported to be already in a stable condition while under heavy police security.
What is obvious here is that a group of Masbate policemen traveled to Manila just to do their job in the campaign against most wanted persons not knowing that the ‘armed and dangerous’ suspect would not allow himself to be captured alive.
Police records showed that the slain suspect is wanted in connection with the killing on September 2, 2021 of Maxwelito Escarcha, a 44-year old ‘kagawad’ of Bgy. Almero in Cataingan, Masbate.
The Police Regional Office 5 headed by Brigadier Gen. Mario Reyes said that at least 12 heavily-armed suspected NPA guerrillas armed with automatic rifles and pistols barged inside the house of the victim. One of the suspects later shot the victim without any provocation in the chest and abdomen before fleeing on foot. The reason why the barangay official was killed: he was accused by the NPA of siding with the police and the military.
National Capital Region Police Office director, Major Gen. Pipoy Natividad said that the Masbate policemen sought the assistance of the Pasay City police in serving the warrant of arrest against the suspect whose whereabouts was located with the help of a concerned citizen.
However, while about to serve the warrant, the policemen were met with gunfire from the suspect triggering the violent encounter. Lt. Gen. Danao said that “our police personnel tried to serve the warrant peacefully but the suspect was armed and was violent. Thus, the operating groups had to defend themselves.”
“ It is unfortunate that one of our comrades died while fulfilling his duty as a law enforcer. This is the risk that goes along with our job in ensuring a criminal-free and crime-free community,” Lt. Gen. Danao said as he led the entire force in mourning the death of SSgt. Codera.
A hero’s burial will be given to the fallen cop as Lt. Gen. Danao assured his family of all police assistance due them. Following the deadly shootout, the PNP leadership reminded anew their men to maintain their vigilance and alert while doing their day-to-day duties specifically in going after armed and dangerous terrorists and other criminals.
Ironically, the death of SSgt. Codera came barely a week after outgoing Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Ed Año thanked the 225,000-strong police force for a job well done in keeping peace and order under the Duterte administration and at the same time called on the country to remember the 307 policemen who have died in the line of duty since 2016. Codera became the 308th cop to be killed in the performance of duty since 2016.
The former Armed Forces chief-turned DILG secretary praised the good work of the PNP specifically amid the pandemic brought about by the COVID-19, the past three years having kept the force busy fighting the virus themselves while seeing to it that the public will fully comply with measures to prevent its further spread specifically the mandatory wearing of face masks in public and observance of physical distancing.
The DILG head since 2018 cited the heroism displayed by members of the police force during his tenure. One of them, Senior Master Sergeant Jason Magno was killed in a grenade explosion at the Initao Community College in Misamis Oriental in November 2019.
During the scuffle to subdue the suspect, a grenade was thrown from the hands of the suspect and landed on the cemented ground. However, Magno paid the ultimate sacrifice by covering the grenade with his body to prevent further damage and injury to the people in the area.
“Magno’s bravery is a story like no other as he showed his willingness to save many others—even if he knew that such an act would take his own life,” said Sec. Año.
Then there is the case of Senior Master Sergeant Conrado A. Cabigao Jr. of the Police Regional Office 4-A who was killed while acting as a ‘poseur-buyer’ in a buy-bust operation in Calabarzon region also in June 2019.
Cabigao was shot in the neck by the suspect. Año said that Cabigao’s death “is indeed a classic example of how life-threatening drug operations are but our policemen still brave the operations for our war on drugs.
Then in February 2020, he cited the killing of Captain Efren Espanto in a gunbattle with New People’s Army rebels in Janiuay, Iloilo. The official said Espanto “demonstrated exceptional sacrifice by offering his life to the country.” “He was shot dead in a long and intense firefight while conducting major combat and clearing operations.
According to the DILG chief who used to be a Philippine Army and later Armed Forces chief, Espanto’s account of heroism is a solid proof of how dedicated our personnel are—even if that means giving everything they can for the neutralization of Communist Terrorist Groups,” he said.
“Magno, Cabigao, and Espanto are just three among the 307 fallen troops who sacrificed their lives in the name of public service—56 of them were killed in the anti-drug war, 160 in anti-criminality campaigns, while the other 91 succumbed in their counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism drives,” he said.
Maj. Gen. Natividad said that of 10 of the 308 fallen cops were members of the NCRPO who were killed while conducting anti-illegal drug operations. He identified the NCRPO personnel who offered their lives as a result of the war on drugs as Corporal Dexter Rey Teves and Police Officers 1 Romeo Mandapat and Junior Hilario of the Northern Police District;
Cpl. Edgil Bombase, Senior Police Officer 2 Randy Marlon Lebrilla and PO1 Marmy Montemayor of the Manila Police District; PO1 Jovy Elchico and Lt. Armand Melad of the Southern Police District; and Corporals Lauro de Guzman and Elvin Garado of the Southern Police District.
Indeed, the country must not forget our policemen who have died in the line of duty since 2016. We should also remember agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Armed Forces who suffered the same fate while doing their sworn duty to serve and protect the country and its people.