BY GLENDA SOLOGASTOA and RUBY SILUBRICO
ILOILO City – They used to fight for victims of injustice. Now, two policemen claim to be victims of injustice themselves.
Fending off murder charges, Inspector Rey Castro and Police Office 3 Aaron Gaton are currently detained at the Iloilo Provincial Integrated Jail (IPIJ) in Barangay Nanga, Pototan, Iloilo.
But they were only doing their job, they insisted.
The two are suspects in the fatal shooting of poultry dealer Arlie (not Pinky as previously reported) Decolongon on Jan. 2, 2014 at the public market of Dumangas, Iloilo.
Castro admitted having shot Decolongon but only in self-defense because the latter fired at them first and rejected their demand to surrender.
The two were responding to an information that Decolongon was unruly and threatening with a gun another businessman identified as Benny Bedia.
“We ask for the support of the whole Philippine National Police (PNP),” said Castro.
He thanked the Iloilo police director, Senior Superintendent Cornelio Salinas, for boosting their morale while in detention.
“Our men only defended themselves from someone who was armed with a gun and trying to shoot them,” said Salinas yesterday.
At the time of the shooting, Castro was the deputy chief of police in Dumangas while Gaton was the investigator.
Castro said his family was upset but told them, most especially his three children, that they have nothing to be ashamed of.
Gaton, on the other hand, advised his fellow policemen not to get demoralized when responding to an incident in line of duty for as long as they are right.
GESTURE OF SUPPORT
Salinas personally visited Castro and Gaton at the IPIJ with Atty. Troy Warren Cayanan whom the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) tapped to defend them in court.
Cayanan said providing legal services to police personnel facing criminal charges in the course of doing their duty is one of the programs of the PNP.
“We do not neglect our men,” said Salinas.
He assured Castro and Gaton that PRO-6 director, Chief Superintendent Josephus Angan, supports them, too.
Also with Salinas were classmates of Castro who are also in police service, led by Iloilo Police Provincial Office’s (IPPO) 1st Maneuver Platoon head, Inspector Marlon Girasol.
Girasol personally handed to Castro and Gaton substantial financial assistance and grocery items.
Salinas assured the two policemen that the IPPO, PRO-6 and the provincial government under Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr. would stand by them.
Salinas also expressed disappointment over another “pillar of justice,” the National Bureau of Investigation, for filing the case against the two police officers.
“We have learned from this particular situation to do our job regardless of the repercussions in the service of the country, God and the people,” Salinas told the policemen.
NO SPECIAL TREATMENT
IPIJ jail warden Abner Zamora, on the other hand, said there would be no special treatment for the two accused policemen.
During the court hearing, they were also properly handcuffed.
However, the two were segregated from other inmates for security and safety reasons.
Zamora said Castro and Gaton shared one typical lockup cell./PN