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Kin of father, son killed by cops in Caloocan file murder raps vs 'lowly, trigger-happy thugs'

Mrs. Mary Ann Domingo assisted by NUPL lawyers filed double murder charges and administrative charges against eight policemen and a supposed informant on Tuesday before the Office of the Ombudsman. (Al Padilla/
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA - The family of a father and son killed in an alleged buy-bust operation have filed double murder charges and administrative charges against eight policemen and a supposed informant on Tuesday before the Office of the Ombudsman.

According to the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL)-National Capital Region, father-and-son Luis Bonifacio and Gabriel Lois Bonifacio were killed in September last year in Caloocan City. NUPL-NCR quoted a police report saying the operation was actually against Luisito Bonifacio, which matched the name of one of Luis' brothers. Instead, Luis and Gabriel Lois were the ones shot multiple times in a buy-bust operation. 

"The police clearly intended to raid the victims’ private residence, armed to the teeth, taking advantage of their superior numbers, with clear intent to kill and in utter disregard of the rights of the rights of the victims and their family who were then present when the police stormed into their house," said NUPL-NCR lawyer Julian Oliva, in a press release. The organization represented Luis' widow, Mary Ann Domingo.

The following faced double murder raps and administrative charges for grave abuse of authority, grave misconduct, and conduct unbecoming of police officers: PSupt. Ali Jose Duterte, (NUPL-NCR said he led the operations according to the police report), SP01 Joel Saludas, PO3 John Cesar Mendoza, PO3 Edgar Manapat, PO1 Aldrin Matthew Matining, PSI Avelino Andaya, PO3 Harold Jake Dela Rosa, PO3 Billy Villanueva, and informant Harlem Ramos.

According to Domingo's complaint, about 15 armed policemen broke into their house early morning on September 15, while the Bonifacio family was sleeping. The police said they were there to conduct a search, but instead, arrested and killed father and son. 

"Before being dragged outside their house, Domingo recounted seeing Luis and Gabriel Lois kneeling before the police and pleading for their lives and asking what crime they committed. She subsequently heard gunshots from inside the house until, eventually, she was told to pick up their corpses from the nearby Manila Central University Hospital," NUPL-NCR's press release read.

Oliva said the account showed clear human rights violations, and provided a basis for the charge of murder. 

"The operation does not resemble at all a legitimate police operation. It is more reminiscent of the work of lowly, trigger-happy thugs which should embarrass any respectable police force in the world," the lawyer added.

NUPL-NCR Secretary General Maria Kristina Conti said the filing of charges against the policemen was just the beginning. The NUPL would be filing more cases in a campaign against "rampant human rights violations committed under the ambit of the government’s so-called war against drugs". NUPL-NCR added that the war on drugs had "only ever targeted impoverished communities."    

NUPL-NCR hoped that this would help subject the violent campaign to "intense scrutiny". 

Rise Up for Life and for Rights, a coalition of church-based community organizations led by the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, was one of NUPL's partners "in launching legal actions to address the cited human rights violations" and ending impunity.

In another press release, Rise Up for Life and for Rights said it hoped to "expose the evil being perpetrated upon the poor."

"We pray the courts will act with haste and show themselves as reliable venues for obtaining justice," they said. "Truthfully, we are sad that too often government acts against the interests of the poor and the marginalized. Still, the families working with Rise Up have been ignited with courage and wish to access every possible avenue for obtaining justice for their loved ones... They wish to keep other families from being afflicted with such painful injustice."

Rise Up added that the Philippine National Police's Oplan Tokhang and Project Double Barrel had "more than failed". Not only had it not eradicated the drug menace, it had created "an additional layer of suffering, terror, and erosion of trust as well as the outright proliferation of another crime in poor communities," as well.