MANILA - A 27-year-old pedicab driver whose jaw was shattered after he was allegedly shot by a policeman in the province of Quezon has sought help for his operation.
Roger Herrero, father of 4, was abducted by policemen on November 1 and was forced to admit that he was behind the robbery incidents in Agdangan town, said his partner Shiela.
"Kung marunong kang magdasal, magdasal ka na," the policeman allegedly told Herrero before shooting him in the head despite his pleading, as recounted by Shiela to ABS-CBN News.
(If you know how to pray, you better start praying now.)
The bullet went through Herrero's right cheek but somehow he survived, Shiela said. Her partner managed to get up when the police left, and was able to call for help, she added.
The incident, Shiela said, happened in the next town of Atimonan. By midnight, the sister of her partner told her that Herrero was in the hospital.
"Pagdating dun nakita po namin talaga na 'yung bunganga niya tumutulo pa 'yung dugo—bumubulwak sa bunganga niya," she recalled.
(When we arrived at the hospital, I saw blood dripping from his mouth.)
Shiela believes it was set-up, as a certain "Aga" who has been selling her partner stolen cellphones asked Herrero to come with him earlier that night.
She said Herrero did not know at first that the phone Aga supplied to him where stolen. Her partner already decided to stop selling phones from Aga when he learned about where the phones came from.
"Nung gabi na nakausap niya si Aga, may pinabebenta talaga 'yang cellphone sa kanya. Hindi naman po tanggapin ng asawa ko," Shiela stressed.
(Aga was trying to convince my partner to sell the cellphone but he rejected the offer.)
"Sabi niya, 'kung di mo ibebenta 'to, pumunta ka na lang dito, ihatid mo ko. Pupunta ako sa mga katropa ko.' Sabi ng asawa ko 'Ihahatid kita pero hanggang dun lang babalik na ko,'" she added.
(Aga said, 'If you won't sell this, just come here, take me to my friends.' My partner said, 'Okay, but I'm just taking you there, and I'll be going home.)
Shiela said she tried to stop her partner from coming with Aga because one of their kids was sick. But Herrero went with the man he once trusted, not knowing what was in store for him.
The two were walking when a black vehicle blocked their way, Shiela said, recalling her husband's account. The policemen, she said, pulled him into the vehicle while Aga ran away.
"Hindi ko lang alam kung nakatakbo o pinatakbo," said Shiela. (I'm not sure if he was able to escape or they let him escape.)
The policemen were forcing Herrero to confess to a series of robberies in the town, Shiela said. Her partner admitted selling the stolen phones but insisted that he never robbed anyone.
When Herrero refused to yield to what the police's requests, the brought him to a place in Atimonan and shot him there.
A couple of weeks after the incident, the bullet from the police's gun remained on Herrero's gums, as he has yet to undergo operation.
The procedure costs over P200,000, way too expensive for a pedicab driver. A GoFundMe account was set up by concerned people to help the Herrero family raise some money.
Shiela said they were still in shock with what happened, especially because her partner repeatedly tried to tell Aga to stop from stealing phones.
The 18-year-old Aga, who supposedly sold phones he stole in Alabang, remains missing, Shiela said.
"Ang ano ko lang sa mga pulis, sana naging patas sila... Hindi lang naman ang asawa ko ang may pagkakamali at hindi naman itinanggi ng asawa ko 'yun," she added.
(I just wished the police had been fair. It's not just my husband who's at fault.)
Quezon police insisted their men conducted a legitimate operation and were just responding to a call from a concerned citizen.
The National Bureau of Investigation already initiated a probe into the incident. The Quezon police assured the investigating team that they will cooperate.