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Officers in village chair’s death face investigation

The Regional Internal Affairs Service under the Police Regional Office (PRO) XI has started its investigation on the police operatives involved in the death of Pangyan Barangay Chair Antonio Guatno in Calinan district.

Sr. Supt. Jose Carumba, RIAS chief, said they are looking into reports that the involved personnel violated the procedure during the operation.

“Once (there is a) violation (of the) police operational procedure, they (the involved operatives) will undergo pre-charge investigation,” Carumba added.

Carumba said all the operatives, including the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) that led the operation.

The raiding team was led by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG)-Davao City Field Unit and backed up by the CIDG-Regional Field Unit XI, the Regional Intelligence Unit and the Regional Mobile Force Battalion.

Guatno’s widow, Lenlen, claimed her husband was killed in cold blood by the raiding team. She denied there was a shootout.

On May 12, Saturday, a search team, armed with search warrant raided Guatno’s house in search of high-powered firearms.

Police claimed Guatno drew a gun before they could enter his house. A shootout erupted that resulted to the death of the barangay captain.

But relatives said the operatives were able to enter the house and ordered all the occupants to lie on the floor. She said her husband was dragged to the kitchen before hearing five shots.

Supt. Edilberto Leonardo, CIDG XI chief, welcomed the RIAS investigation.

“That’s their mandate, they have to (conduct the investigation),” Leonardo said.

Chief Insp Milgrace Driz, PRO spokesperson, said there’s no order yet on whether the operatives will be confined to barracks or their firearms will be surrendered to their superiors while investigation is ongoing.

“We will leave the investigation with the RIAS as to the validity and execution (of the warrant),” Driz said. “We will leave that issue to the investigating officers.”

Driz earlier said the search warrant was valid.

Davao City Police Office (DCPO) Director Sr. Supt. Alexander Tagum said Guatno had been aided the communist rebels.

He said rebels bound to poblacion are leaving their guns at Guatno’s house.

The team allegedly recovered two short firearms — a caliber .45 pistol (serial number 361855 with an inserted magazine loaded with three live ammunition) and a caliber 9mm pistol (serial number T0620 with an inserted magazine loaded with 14 live ammunition) from the official’s house.

Listed on the search warrant, issued by Judge Emmanuel Carpio for violation of Republic Act 10591 or illegal possession of firearms, are high-powered firearms.

Guatno, a poster boy of the City Hall’s rehab program, was previously tagged as a high-value target by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) 11 for his involvement in illegal drug trade.

When he surrendered during the Oplan Tokhang, he was removed from the list. He underwent the city-sponsored drug rehabilitation program, the Tabangan Atong Reformists Aron Naay Asenso (Tara Na), in which he became a poster boy early this month after becoming the first government official to finish the rehab.

Guatno was a former army sergeant before entering politics.

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