Family of slain suspect in Lipa shootout denies drug links

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LIPA CITY, Philippines – The family of suspect Rolando Bellen alias Kalbo, who died in a supposed shootout with police authorities during a buy-bust operation here last week, has cried foul over the insinuations that he is involved in the illegal drug activities even as they demanded justice for his killing.

Bellen’s wife Honeybee said that they were extremely disappointed and hurt by the pronouncements of the local police that he was a drug pusher and felt she had to speak up to defend Bellen over the so-called “unfair” allegations being hurled against him.

“I know my husband. He is so kind. He doesn’t have vices and he really would never ever sell drugs,” Honeybee told The Filipino Connection in an interview.

When told that the police recovered from Bellen some five sachets of shabu and a caliber .357 pistol with ammunitions, she replied, “Maybe they just planted that evidence in order for them to cover up the investigation on what they did to my husband.”

She also doubted reports that her husband retaliated and fought back with authorities with his gun, which resulted to an exchange of gunfire with authorities, noting that the former sustained only gunshot wounds on his chest and surprisingly did not even had a single bruise on his body.

The family has requested for an autopsy of Bellen’s body.

They have yet to decide though whether they would file charges at the National Police Commission against members of the Lipa City police who were involved in the operation.

“What we’re really after now is to clear his name,” Honeybee says.

Superintendent Carlos Barde, Lipa city police chief, declined request for interviews.

He however denied the allegations of a police rub-out and maintained that Bellen died in a legitimate police operation as evidenced by the drugs and gun recovered from his possession.

Reports said that the Lipa City police’s Anti-Illegal Drug Special Operations Task Group conducted the said operation in Barangay Anilao Proper at about 11:15 p.m. P01 Elijones Lat, acting as poseur-buyer, gave P500 in marked money to Bellen in exchange for a sachet of shabu.

When P01 Fernando Pedro, who was also at the scene, introduced himself as a police officer, however, the suspect immediately drew a firearm from his sling bag and shot at him twice but missed.

PO1 Pedro fired back and Bellen was wounded after a brief exchange of shots. His companion fled in the direction of Padre Garcia on a motorcycle.

Police immediately brought the wounded suspect to NL Villa Memorial Medical Center in Lipa City for treatment but Bellen was declared dead on arrival.

Bellen, a bus mechanic who hails from Sto. Tomas, Batangas, was the second drug suspect killed in a police buy-bust operation in Lipa City since President Rodrigo Duterte was elected as president last May 9.

A certain alias Glenn also died in a similar operation on June 7, when he fought back with authorities conducting buy-bust which subsequently led to a chase and a bloody exchange of gunfire in Barangay Lodlod, ending in his demise.

From January 1 to July 10, 2016, the Batangas provincial police reported that they have already conducted 624 buy-bust operations in the province that led to the arrest of 648 suspects. Five suspects including Bellen and alias Glenn, were reportedly killed in an armed encounter with police.

Police said they also recovered 1,989.12 grams of shabu and 739.26 grams of marijuana with an estimated value of P19.11 million.

Some 159 drug suspects were also arrested in the police’s 333 search warrant operations, which led to the seizure of 280.74 grams of shabu and 110.14 grams of marijuana worth P2.35 million. Three suspects were killed on the said operations.