Police have uncovered the existence of a big group of vigilantes operating in Metro Manila and other areas following the arrest of three of its members in a raid in their hideout in Tondo, Manila.
Director General Ronald dela Rosa, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said the arrest will dispel rumors that policemen and soldiers are behind the extra-judicial killings.
“This only proves that it is not the police who are responsible for what they termed as extra-judicial killings.
These people admitted to killing some drug suspects which we classify as Death Under Investigation,” said Dela Rosa.
He identified the three alleged vigilantes as Manuel Murillo, 33; Marco Murallos, 33; and, Alfredo Alejan, 42.
Chief Supt. Joel Napoleon Coronel, director of the Manila Police District, said the three were collared in a raid at the Temporary Housing in Vitas, Tondo Manila.
“They are members of a vigilante group engaged in several crimes,” said Coronel in a press briefing in Camp Crame, Quezon City where they were presented to dela Rosa.
During the interrogation, the three confessed to be members of a large group of volunteers who are running after suspected drug pushers and users especially in Metro Manila.
More than 7,000 suspected drug pushers and users have been killed in legitimate police operations and incidents attributed to vigilante groups.
Topping the list of the areas where the killings of suspected drug pushers and users are Metro Manila and Central Luzon.
Following interrogation, Dela Rosa said the group is composed of more than 200 vigilantes and led by a civilian volunteer they call “Commander.”
“This commander and seven others are now the subject of our follow-up operations,” said Coronel.
Dela Rosa, for his part, said the group is using the anti-illegal drugs war launched by the Duterte administration as an opportunity to liquidate people.
He said the group has been operating for five months, or the time where the anti-drugs war is at its peak.
Coronel said they found out about the case after the body of 16-year old Charlie Saladaga was found floating along the shoreline of Isla Puting Bato in Tondo on Jan. 2.
The victim’s family said they finally sought police assistance after some of the suspects threatened them.
Further investigation revealed that the armed group, known as the Confederate Sentinels Group, was engaged in extortion on garbage collectors and series of killings in Tondo. (AARON B. RECUENCO)