Retired Philippine cop appeals to Duterte for justice after ‘innocent’ son killed amid drug war
In letter that has gone viral, father threatens to find killers of 21-year-old son who was gunned down in the street
Retired police intelligence officer Alfredo Jebulan, 64, is used to investigating violent deaths. Over the weekend, he suddenly found himself trying to make sense of the gangland style execution of his fifth and youngest child Yani in Antipolo, Rizal, northeast of Manila.
At first he thought the 21-year-old psychology student was shot only once after drinking with friends to celebrate passing midterm exams.
An autopsy revealed Yani was shot twice on the chest, once on the side, “and the finishing touch was on the head,” Jebulan calmly told South China Morning Post.
It’s the same calm voice he must have used as a police officer discussing with strangers the death of their loved ones.
After speaking with police about his son’s case, Jebulan took the highly unorthodox step of posting on Facebook an open letter to President Rodrigo Duterte, who has waged a ruthless war against drug dealers and users since he was elected earlier this year. The letter has gone viral in the Philippines.
It read: “I’m addressing this to you Mr Rodrigo DUTERTE. My youngest son was shot in the head by rinding [sic] in tandem men wearing bonnets at around 12 midnight Oct 29 2016. He died instantly with a single bullet in the head. My son is a 3rd year college student studying at Fatima University, Antipolo Rizal. He has never been involved in any illegal drug habit moreso [sic] in pedling [sic] drugs whatsoever.”
He then said he was once a police officer who used to arrest drug offenders. He added: “My point is, if I will know that one of your policemen has the hand for the cause of the death of my son, God forbids [sic], I will let heaven and earth befall upon him. I know you dont [sic] tolerate this but let me be very very frank, if they know how to kill people, SO AM I. This goes to you too (national police chief) Gen Dela Rosa Sir. I’m begging you Help me solve the unecessary [sic] death of my son PLEASE or I will be the one to do it without your help.”
Asked why he had resorted to Facebook, he said: “Frankly, my purpose is to prevent my son from becoming a mere statistic” in Duterte’s war on drugs. He also wanted to head off news reports that might insinuate Yani was into drugs.
As of the weekend, more than 2,000 drug-related fatalities had been recorded since May 10, 14 of them in Antipolo City.
Asked why Jebulan had linked Yani’s death to Duterte’s war on drugs, the retired cop made it clear he was not fighting Duterte nor was he angry with him. He said he backed the president’s war on drugs because “I want him to sweep away all those drug lords who have plagued our society.”
Jebulan shares this attitude with most Filipinos. Two recent surveys of private pollsters Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia show Duterte with sky-high approval ratings - of 76 per cent and 86 per cent, respectively. His war on drugs favourably polled 84 per cent in the SWS survey, although 71 per cent of respondents said it was “very important” for drug offenders to be caught alive.
While Jebulan was all for the “war on drugs”, he expressed alarm over the notable increase in how many executions were being carried out: done by killers riding in pairs on a motorcycle. “Once you hear of riding-in-tandem, we cannot be sure if that is a vigilante or legitimate police. That’s so frequent, isn’t it?”
He added that while such killings had occurred in the two previous presidencies, “today we have so many deaths. It’s very obvious, isn’t it?”
“Perhaps, if he (Duterte) did not become president, maybe the killings would not be that many. He himself had declared that he would triple the number of deaths. He said that himself on TV,” he said.
Jebulan was referring to a warning Duterte made last week that “you can expect about 20,000 or 30,000 more” drug-related killings.
However sources last week in the Philippines signalled a possible shift in strategy in its blood-soaked war against drugs, with Philippines police aiming to reduce the killing of suspects and put more resources into arresting prominent people tied to the trade.
Jebulan said he had no political axe to grind. He had boycotted the May elections and those before because he was disgusted with politicians. His daughter, Miah, posted on Facebook that she had voted for Duterte. She liked the way he ran things. She wasn’t blaming him for Yani’s death but only asking for his help to resolve it swiftly.
Jebulan said: “I really like it when those being killed are really drug addicts so that the next generation will not suffer. But when innocent students like my son are killed, who wouldn’t feel hurt?”
“Let’s reverse roles. What if I were the president and this had happened to him, what do you think will he say?”
The presidential palace did not respond to repeated phone calls or mobile text messages from The Post on Yani’s case.
However the Philippines national police chief Ronald Dela Rosa on Monday ordered a “deeper investigation” into Yani’s death, GMA TV reported.
The Antipolo City police chief Ruben Andiso earlier told the Philippine Daily Inquirer they were looking into reports that Yani had tried to intervene in a quarrel involving a friend just hours before he died.
Meanwhile, Jebulan plays over and over on his mobile phone a short clip taken from a CCTV camera that captured the moment his son died. It shows two people on a motorcycle riding past a pair of young men walking along a deserted road. Then flashes of light appear briefly at the tip of the rear passenger’s outstretched arm.
One pedestrian staggers away while the other falls. The time stamp on the clip is 12:38 a.m.
“I assume that’s my son. My son lay face down for several hours in the rain,” he said.