CEBU CITY — The Regional Police Office (PRO) in Central Visayas on Thursday ordered the relief of 18 intelligence operatives of the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) after a police corporal died in a “misencounter” Wednesday dawn in a mountain village here.
Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas, PRO-7 director, said all elements of the Provincial Intelligence Branch (PIB) were relieved of their posts after the death of Cebu City Police Office’s (CCPO) Mobile Force Company member, Cpl. Feliciano Yballe Jr., was shot dead during the “misencounter” in Barangay Sudlon 1 here.
Sinas said in his conversation with CPPO director Col. Manuel Abrugena that the provincial police operatives went to said barangay to arrest one of the assailants of Police Master Sgt. Junard Cinco earlier this week.
“The initial interview with Col. Abrugena revealed that the CPPO operatives did not have the intention to kill Corporal Yballe but to seek his assistance,” Sinas said. “But due to shots fired from the house of the victim (Yballe), misencounter occurred.”
There was a “miscoordination” between the provincial intelligence operatives and Yballe, he stressed.
Yballe was “very alert but had a bit of paranoia due to series of death threats he received from drug syndicates” for a couple of months now, he said.
He reportedly confided to his colleagues before he died that “local officials who he believed are be associated with drug syndicates (were) are raising funds for his death,” Sinas said, noting that Yballe was involved in a series of anti-drug operations conducted by the city police here.
Sinas assured that what happened between the intelligence operatives of the CPPO and Yballe will not diminish the resolve of the regional police in the fight against illegal drugs in Cebu and Central Visayas. The incident was just a result of miscoordination, he stressed.
Sinas also assured that there is no rift between the city and the provincial police.
The 18 relieved policemen of the CPPO’s intelligence branch headed by Capt. Alejandro Batobalonos are now under the custody of the Regional Security Unit (RSU-7) while the Regional Internal Affairs Service (RIAS) in Central Visayas headed by Brig. Gen. Noel Gillamac conducts an impartial probe on the incident.
The relieved policemen surrendered their service firearms for ballistic examinations by the regional Crime Laboratory and underwent paraffin and drug tests.
Prior to the incident in Barangay Sudlon 1 which led to the death of Yballe, Master Sgt. Cinco, a CPPO Drug Enforcement Unit operative, was shot dead in Media Once, a village in Toledo City in the morning of April 30, a day after he assisted in serving a warrant of arrest to the alleged right hand of slain drug lord, Steve Go.
After receiving report that Cinco was gunned down, the intelligence unit proceeded to the hinterland here to conduct a hot pursuit operation against his assailants. The police, however, could not say whether Yballe was a suspect in Cinco’s ambush. (PNA)