Bloody incidents in Iloilo worry youth group

A youth group expressed concern about the peace and order situation in Iloilo following the bloody incidents involving unknown assailants.

Kabataan Party-list Western Visayas particularly cited the killing of the punong barangay of Bakhaw in Mandurriao district, Iloilo City and a shootout in a populated area of Arevalo district.

Remia Gregori, one of the alleged “narco-officials” in the city, was shot to death by unidentified gunmen at their own resort in the town of San Joaquin, Iloilo province on June 24. She is the sister of slain suspected drug lord Richard Prevendido.

The village chief’s personal assistant, Analee Antipatia, was also gunned down.

Antipatia was allegedly a courier of illegal drugs.

On the other hand, PO1 Dorben Acap Jr. of the Police Regional Office’s (PRO-6) Personnel Holding and Accounting Unit was wounded in the shootout on June 26.

Acap was driving his red car when he was fired at by motorcycle-riding gunmen. He sustained a bullet wound in his left shoulder.

Arevalo Police Station chief Senior Insp. Mary Grace Borio said that the police officer is considered a “high-value target drug personality.”

The two incidents are still being investigated.

In a press conference, PRO-6 Director Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao said what happened in San Joaquin was an “isolated case” and does not represent the peace and order situation in Iloilo.

He also denied that it was state-sponsored.

“Alam mo, ang Philippine National Police may policies na sinusunod ‘yan. Una na diyan ang due process,” Bulalacao said.

A day before the Arevalo shootout, Andrew Altas, brother-in-law of slain suspected drug lord Melvin Odicta Sr., was killed in a police operation.

The operation also resulted in the arrest of Tanza Esperenza Punong Barangay Noel “Nene” Odicta, brother of Melvin Sr., and three others for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Meanwhile, Kabataan Party-list Western Visayas urged youth organizations to “question government’s inaction and tolerance of impunity.”

“A climate of impunity is apparent. It echoes the general climate of prevalent killings in the country,” said JC Alejandro, spokesperson of the youth party-list in the region.

Kabataan Party-list cited the 20,000 killings since President Rodrigo Duterte became President in 2016.

“President Duterte and his armed mercenaries are inculcating fear through violence against the poor. We have to demand accountability and due process,” said Alejandro.

“If the government is perpetuating this senseless killings and impunity, we ought to seek not just policy reforms but the removal of Duterte from office,” he further said.

Kabataan Party-list is also “alarmed over the arrest and crackdown on ordinary citizens who casually lounge in public places.”

“The government is treating as criminals those who are unemployed and those without decent housing,” Alejandro lamented.

The youth party-list told the public to “pressure government officials to pursue due process, respect of human rights and dignity, and the protection of public welfare.”IMT