MANILA - The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Friday said anti-narcotics operatives may not be responsible for the death of four-year-old Bladen Skyler Abatayo in Cebu City.
Four police personnel involved in the drug operation tested negative for gunpowder residue, according to the PNP.
"This means that the four DEU (Drug Enforcement Unit) operatives have not fired their handguns hence may not have been responsible for the death of Skyler," the PNP statement read.
Paraffin test results, however, are not accepted as evidence in court because of their unreliability, according to Supreme Court decisions.
Police earlier claimed that the stray bullet came from one of the suspects.
PNP chief Oscar Albayalde has ordered the relief of the police personnel involved in the incident pending full investigation.
A manhunt operation has also been launched to track down the four suspects, who were able to escape during the botched raid in Barangay Ermita on Tuesday.
"While the four DEU operatives were reportedly found negative in paraffin tests, we still could not totally discount their responsibility [in] the death of Skyler pending the final outcome of the investigation," the PNP said.
The boy's family has sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
In a Facebook post that went viral, a relative expressed deep grief over the boy's sudden death.
"Kuya, look. Naa na imo ID kuya Kai. Di ba kuya, excited kayka sa imo ID? Nag-sige pa gani ka ask ni tita Ya ngano naa nako ID ikaw wala pa?"
(Look, Kuya. Here's your ID. You were excited for this. You kept on asking tita Ya why you still don't have your ID.)
"Kuya, naa na imo ID oh. Gihatod ni teacher diri ganina kuya. Gwapo kayka imo ID kuya. Maong mata na kuya please? Mo school nata kuya."
(Here's your ID now, Kuya. Your teacher brought it. You look handsome in it. Wake up now, Kuya. We're going to school now.)
"Di ba ni ana ka, mag-perfect nasad kas imo exam kuya para palitan kang mama ug bag-o nasad nga toy?"
(You said you will ace your exam so your mama will buy you a new toy.)
"Kuya, sige na. Bisag mao nalang imo birthday gift ka tita ug papa kuya. Please mata na."
(Please wake up, Kuya. As a birthday gift to tita and papa.)
"Dili ikaw dapat nag-higda diha kuya. Ngano man? Ngano sa tanan ikaw man kuya?"
(You should not be lying there. Why you of all people?) - with report from Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News