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.

Police file raps vs 2 alleged pushers

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MALVAR, BATANGAS – The police had filed charges at the Batangas Provincial Prosecutors Office against the two suspects who were allegedly found in possession of illegal drugs.

PCI Gaudencio Aguilera, Malvar police chief, identified the charged suspects as Nestor Ilagan, 28; and Maricar Maniego, both residents of Bauan, Batangas.

Aguilera said they have filed charges of illegal possession of dangerous drugs against the said suspects who were they arrested on Monday afternoon at a checkpoint at JP Laurel National Highway in Barangay Poblacion.

Malvar police investigator SP01 Roy Cuevas said they confiscated from the suspects some 75.76 grams of shabu worth P393,952. Cuevas told The Filipino Connection that the suspects came from Tanauan City and were on their way to Bauan when they were stopped at a police checkpoint.

He said that the suspects admitted they were already pushers for a long time and they were about to deliver the said illegal drugs on that night to a drug buyer in Bauan, whom they refused to name.

“They said it was already their fourth time (to deliver shabu) but it was only their first time to get caught by the police,” Cuevas said.

Police reports said that at about 6 pm, the Malvar police led by Aguilera were conducting a checkpoint at the said highway as part of the Philippine National Police’s Oplan Checkmate program, when they flagged down the suspects who were aboard a black Honda Wave Motorcycle.

The police then asked Ilagan, driver of the said motorcycle for his driver’s license, which the later presented but the cops later found it already expired last Feb. 12, 2010.

They also asked for a copy of the driver’s certificate of registration and official receipt of said motorcycle but a plastic of shabu came out as the driver tried to pull out the said document from his jacket’s pocket.

The police also asked the backrider Maniego, who was anxious at that time, to open her black pouch and a plastic of shabu also came out from the said bag.

The suspects are currently detained at the Malvar police station, facing charges of violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs of 2002.  Ilagan also was charged of violating the Land Transportation and Traffic Code for driving with invalid, suspended and delinquent driver’s license.

Both suspects declined requests for media interviews.