The Commission on Human Rights exhumed and autopsied Wednesday afternoon the remains of a former police officer who was killed during an anti-illegal drugs operation last January in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental.
The exhumation was requested by the parents of PO2 Roderick Maquita who said they were “seeking justice” for their slain son.
Dr. Jess Cañete, special field investigator and the CHR-Negros Oriental chief, said the body of Maquita was autopsied to determine the cause of his death upon the request of his mother, Perlita Maquita.
Maquita, a dismissed policeman who was allegedly involved in the illegal drugs trade, was killed by operatives of the Dumaguete City police force on January 9, this year, along Bishop Epifanio B. Surban Street, near the gate of the Holy Child Hospital.
A forensic team from the CHR central office in Manila, headed by Dr. Ludivino Lagat, performed the autopsy at a private cemetery in Barangay Bagacay Wednesday afternoon.
A report from the Dumaguete police station said that Maquita allegedly tried to shoot it out with police operatives during a buy-bust operation around 9:45 p.m. on January 9, this year.
The police report had said that Maquita allegedly sold suspected shabu to an undercover operative but sensed that it was a trap and so he allegedly attempted to pull out his gun, prompting the police officers to fire at him.
Police operatives recovered from the crime scene three big transparent plastic sachets of suspected "shabu" (methamphetamine hydrochloride) granules, three smaller plastic sachets containing suspected shabu, a .45 caliber pistol with a magazine and six live ammunition, a wallet containing PHP10,671.25, three empty shells of a 9mm pistol, one deformed slug for a 9mm firearm and other items.
Cañete said the autopsy was conducted, not as a “witch-hunting activity” but to determine the trajectory of the bullets that entered the body of the suspect, to recover slugs if there were any, determine the caliber of the firearm or firearms used, and determine the possible position of the shooter(s) and the victim, in the hope of finding enough evidence for the filing of charges against those who may be responsible.
Cañete said, the CHR cannot rely on the police blotter and verbal pronouncements of the police, because of a standing order and memorandum from the Office of the President not to provide documents to the CHR in situations like this.So they are conducting their own investigation upon the request of the family.
He said that in the absence of the police investigation report, the CHR will be forced to file the information based on their own findings including the findings of forensic experts and so the burden of proof is shifted to the concerned operatives to slow whether the former police officer was killed as a matter of self-defense or not.
Cañete said Maquita’s bullet wound on the left temporal portion of his head did not pierce through the skull, which was indicative that the bullet may have hit a hard object beforefirst hitting the victim.
Two other bullet wounds were found in the abdomen and in the chest, but these were still being determined if they were entry or exit wounds.
Meanwhile, the parents vehemently declined an interview with the reporters during the exhumation and autopsy and even chided them for not getting their side of the story when the shooting happened.
The parents, however, said in a casual talk with reporters that they could not accept previous pronouncements that their son, Roderick Maquita, was a “big fish” in the illegal drugs operation that had caused him to be transferred from one police station to the other.
After his assignment in Dumaguete, he was assigned to the Dalaguit, Alegria and Santander police stations, all in Cebu province.
Police interviews showed that Maquita went AWOL (absent without leave) and was eventually dropped from the roster, but his parents said they never knew of their son’s dismissal from the police service.
During the exhumation, Maquita was fund wearing a full police uniform, and the mother said the national headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City allowed the deceased policeman to wear his uniform in the absence of any dismissal order.
The parents said their son was not a notorious criminal, unlike those who were arrested with kilos of shabu and yet have remained alive.
Cañete said the investigation would center on whether there was a violation of the rule of law in the death of Maquita, finding out who was involved, and to get their version so fairness will prevail.
But if the police operatives concerned will invoke the memorandum circular issued by the office of the President, the CHR, he said, had no other recourse but to submit its findings to the court.*PNA
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