By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. (File photo)

MANILA – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. expressed outrage over the death of a teenager in a recent police operation in Navotas City, assuring a review of police operational procedures after the incident.

“Magkakaroon kami ng meeting with the PNP (Philippine National Police) leadership at pag-uusapan namin kung anong dapat gawin dito (We will meet with the PNP leadership and talk about what to do). We will revisit all of their modes of procedure at ‘yung tinatawag na command responsibility, kung up to what level (ang liability) para hindi na maulit ito (and the so-called command responsibility, including the level [of liability] so that it does not happen again),” Abalos told reporters on the sidelines of his visit to the wake of the 17-year-old victim Jerhode Jemboy Baltazar in Navotas City late Thursday afternoon.

He assured that justice would be served to the victim.

“This should never happen again. We will have a meeting with the Chief PNP (Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr.). When we talk about it, what should be done here. So all the modes of procedure will be reviewed,” he added.

Meanwhile, Abalos said administrative and criminal charges have been filed against the six involved police officers, who are currently detained.

“The PNP acted swiftly in this incident. The involved police officers are now behind bars and the investigation is ongoing. I am a father myself and I know how painful it is to lose a child. This is why I assure the family that they will get justice,” he said.

The six police officers have undergone inquest proceedings for homicide before the Navotas City prosecutor’s office.

According to the report of the Navotas City police, the police officers conducted a pursuit operation on Aug. 2 in response to a murder incident when they chanced upon Baltazar who was then on board a boat.

The police said they commanded Baltazar and his companion to surrender. However, he allegedly jumped into the river, prompting law enforcers to fire at him, resulting in his death.

The police officers later admitted that Baltazar was not the suspect they were looking for but a certain Reynaldo Bolivar.

On Thursday, the PNP Internal Affairs Service (IAS) said they would expedite the fact-finding investigation of the case.

IAS Inspector General Alfegar Triambulo said they have begun the investigation on the mistaken identity case and they are expecting to release their recommendation in the first week of September.


The Diocese of Caloocan likewise condemned the death of Baltazar.

“Deliberately killing people in cold blood—even if they might be suspected of engaging in drugs or criminal activities—is already plain murder, not just homicide. It is not just immoral, it is plainly illegal. How much more for the case of Jemboy?” Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David said in a social media post on Friday.

At the same time, he asked all parishes, mission stations, and basic ecclesial communities in the city to express their solidarity with the bereaved family and jointly express strong condemnation against those involved in the case.

“Good heavens! This boy was just a child as far as our laws are concerned. Can we just allow the police to literally get away with murder?” David said. (with report from Ferdinand Patinio/PNA)