CHR probes drug-related deaths in Cagayan Valley

Harris Julio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 28 2016 09:29 PM

CAGAYAN—The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Region 2 (Cagayan Valley) has started looking into the death of people who surrendered to authorities under the government's intensified anti-drug campaign.

The CHR recorded 43 alleged extra-judicial killings from July until September in Region 2. Of these, 22 happened in Isabela, 16 in Cagayan, four in Nueva Vizcaya, and one in Quirino.

“Per incident, mayroong dalawa o tatlong namamatay. Mayroon din namang iisa ang namatay so there are more persons that are killed rather than the number of incidents,” said lawyer Jimmy Baliga, regional director of the CHR.

They will be prioritizing incidents where there were complaints filed either by family or people close to the deceased, said Baliga. They will also determine whether or not there were irregularities in the performance of police in the incidents.

In cooperation with the CHR, Cagayan Police Director Senior Superintendent Amorsolo dela Cruz ordered those concerned to submit the firearms used in the police’s anti-drug operations.

However, Dela Cruz denied the involvement of any policeman in extrajudicial killings.

“I am [confident] in saying na walang extrajudicial killing dito sa Cagayan. Ang term naming diyan ay ‘drug-related case under investigation,’” he said, and cited a recent incident where a known drug personality was allegedly shot dead by criminals on a motorcycle in Allacapan town Tuesday morning.

The victim, Joseph Allan Ragasa, was included in the barangay anti-drug abuse council (BADAC) list of suspected drug personalities in his hometown of Abulug, Cagayan, but Allacapan police suspect other motives in his killing, including reasons related to his work.

Ragasa, who worked for three years as a legal researcher for the Regional Trial Court Branch 9 in Aparri, Cagayan, allegedly engaged in recent disputes with acquaintances, said Police Chief Inspector Rodel Tabulog.

“These people are engaged with people who are engaged with other people, and this might be the reason why [they were killed]. As they say, parang sila rin ang gumawa para itumba,” Baliga said.

CHR investigators were given 60 days to complete their probe.