“Kutsilyo pwede pa, kasi nagkakatay ng baboy yun,” she said.
Police recovered from 30 other slain suspects .38-revolver each, records showed. Until 2011, a .38-caliber revolver was once the police service firearm.
In a 2011 report, the PNP said it had to replace the .38-caliber service firearm because of its unreliability: it often misfires and unlike semiautomatic pistols, revolvers’ six cartridges had to be replaced individually.
It was said to be the drug dealers’ weapon of choice because it could easily be obtained in the black market for as low as P3,000.
Where the gun came from
But relatives of 38 victims said the dead did not own a gun. Most of the fatalities only lived by the day and did not have the means to buy such firearm. And if they ever had one, they would have had pawned it to buy food for their families.
“Paano magkakabaril yan eh pambili nga ng gatas ng anak niya wala e, baril pa kaya?” said one of Carlito Santos’ neighbors.
A neighbor of suspected drug peddler Celso Guites alias Picos, 48, said she saw members of Airport Police Community Precinct place a gun beside the victim inside his house in Barangay 193, Pasay City, shortly after Guites was gunned down.
The usual suspect
Guites had been in and out of the prison thrice for drugs possession. He was released on bail the last time in February, according to his family.
Guites had changed his ways, the family said, but the police didn’t believe it.
“Sir, nagbago na ko Sir. Di na ko (tulak) ng droga, ang asawa ko lang po,” the neighbor quoted Guites telling the police.
A policeman then took out a .45-caliber gun and told him to hold it. He refused and instead raised his hands in the air. In response, the policeman shot him dead.
“Nagmamakaawa na si Picos,” the neighbor said. “'Sir, sir,’ hindi nila talaga pinakinggan... Wala silang awa. Walang kalaban-laban.”
In a report dated July 17, the Pasay City police said Guites was killed in an Oplan Tokhang after refusing to surrender.
He was shot multiple times in the trunk, the death certificate showed.
But seven of the 50 cases had guns, according to the families of the victims.
One of them was Rio Awa alias Dodong, 31, of Sta. Ana, Taytay, Rizal.
Awa had a gun, but his family expressed doubts that he was able to use it at all because his hands were handcuffed from behind.
On the morning of July 24, members of the Rizal PNP’s Provincial Intelligence Branch and Special Operations Unit apprehended Awa while he was walking on the street. He was handcuffed, witnesses said, and brought inside his shack where he was killed minutes later.
"Paano yun nanlaban? Eh kitang kita namin dito nakaposas sa likod,” a witness said.
Awa was shot in the head, his death certificate showed. His sister, Marianne Awa, said his neck bore a slit.
“Okay lang naman sana kung binaril lang,” Marianne said. “Pero nakita ko parang may [hiwa] pa dito sa leeg. Yun yung hinanakit ko nung pagkatingin ko. Sumigaw talaga ako eh.”
According to the spot report, Awa was killed in a buy-bust operation. Awa reportedly drew his gun and fired at the operatives who, in turn, shot and killed him.
Marianne said he should have been given a second chance to turn his life around. He was just new to the illegal drug trade, around six months, she said, and he was not the big-time peddler like the authorities said he was.
“Dapat naman kasi sana kinilala muna nila yung isang tao na kung talagang totoong big time,” Marianne said.
Fighting the police
Many of the families interviewed by ABS-CBN News wanted to sue the police for depriving their relatives of their right to due process.
Still, many felt heavily burdened trying to prove and sustain the suits. Where would they get the money? What if they get killed, too?
These were the questions running through Niolyn Garcia’s mind.
When an ABS-CBN News team arrived at her home in Sta. Rosa, Laguna on August 26 for an interview, Niolyn thought the news team was the answer to her prayers.
Her son, 23-year-old Jerome Garcia, was killed in an alleged shootout on July 1 with a team of Sta. Rosa policemen wanting to serve an arrest warrant on his companion Ryan Roy Barroga, a murder suspect.
"Araw-araw pinagdadasal ko na sana isang araw may kakatok diyan sa pinto namin, tetestigo at sasabihin kung ano talaga ang nangyari sa anak ko,” the mother said.
In the spot report, the Sta. Rosa City Police said that Garcia fired at them while they were serving the warrant. Both Garcia and Barroga died on the spot.
Good guy, bad company
But Niolyn said her son was merely a collateral damage--Jerome was never involved in drugs. He was a pedicab driver trying to help her and her husband make both ends meet for their family of seven, she said.
He was just too friendly, she added, that he tagged along with people, even those he barely knew, like Barroga.