The reported beating of an arrested person on a street in Mantahan, Maasin City which was captured on video on December 9, 2022, and his subsequent death went viral on social media.
An off-duty police officer is reportedly under restrictive custody after allegedly mistreating a theft suspect identified as 34-year-old Gilbert Dalogdog Ranes who died on December 9.
Southern Leyte Provincial Police Officer Hector Enage during a press conference on December 13 reported that a certain Police Staff Sergeant Ronald Gamayon was the first responder and the first person who arrested the suspect/victim.
According to Enage, gamayon was assigned at the Provincial Intelligence Unit (PIU) Southern Leyte PPO and a resident of barangay Lunas, Maasin City.
Enage further said that four other members of the Maasin City Police Station were reassigned to the provincial office last December 12, 2022 and are said to be investigated by the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) for possible administrative charges.
“I am very serious. Someone died. Someone must be accountable,” the provincial police chief said.
Jennylyn, Ranes sister, informed this reporter that some witnesses commented that her brother still managed to scream “Tabang” out loud asking help and said “Sakto na sir, naa pa koy tulo ka anak” ( Enough sir, I have three children).
The Ranes family added that there are five witnesses who are willing to help, two of them have reportedly filed their statements. On December 13, 2022, two witnesses reportedly went to the City Prosecutor’s Office to testify on the beating.
Jerome Maraon Paler, relative of the victim, seemingly showed on the first video, Ranes unconsciously lying on what seemed to be the floor of the police station; the voice of an unidentified person saying “Tiwasan na laman na!” (Finish him off!).
In the second video, a police officer was shown to have been carrying Ranes to the police vehicle.
The last video shows a police officer beating Ranes while also carrying a gun in his hand; and some other photo showed Ranes already lying lifeless at the provincial hospital.
Enage said that Ranes entered a bakery in Barangay Mantahan around 7-pm on December 9 and allegedly stole a mobile phone, and as the victim called for help as he exited, some civilians grabbed him and were the first to beat Ranes. Enage said Gamayon who was off-duty and was passing by at the time “pacified the crowd” and took custody of Ranes.
Maasin City police
Maasin City police responders helped transport Ranes to the police station as the victim was reportedly still conscious, “They were booking him, taking his fingerprints. Then he complained about difficulty of breathing,” Enage said, quoting police investigators, and that soon after Ranes collapsed. That was also when a still unidentified person reportedly captured the “tiwasan na laman na” video scene.
“It is very clear that there were lapses by the Maasin police in police operational procedures on the treatment of suspects,” Enage said.
Maasin cops called for the nearby fire station for a medic; they tried to revive but decided to bring him to the provincial hospital around 8pm.
“He was still alive. Doctors treated him. They pronounced him dead around 11 pm,” the police chief said.
A post-mortem examination revealed, as reported, severe head trauma as the cause of death of the victim, according to Dr. April Macabuhay of Maasin City Health Unit.
The report said there were periorbital hematoma on both eyes, multiple abrasions on left and right cheeks and face, and multiple abrasions of the right substernal area, hematoma and swelling of the right temporal area of the face, multiple abrasions on the right extremity posterior forearm, and contusions and multiple abrasions mid-anterior chest.
A case for homicide is already filed at the Maasin City Prosecutor’s Office.
Enage is urging the video uploader to surrender himself, “I’m not saying you shouldn’t post on social media, but we cannot use those videos in court unless the owner testifies.”
“If you feel you cannot go to the local police, please come to me directly, so we can take immediate action.”
“Our police are professional, though I cannot deny this incident. We want to show that we are fair,” Enage said at the press conference.
Southern Leyte Provincial Internal Affairs Service (SLPIAS) Police Captain Rene L. Pacheco said in a phone interview that SLPPO and Maasin Police Station are conducting parallel investigations.
Police Regional Director Police Brigadier General Rommel Francisco D. Marbil in a press release stated “Rest assured that this PRO will closely monitor this case or similar incidents involving officers under my watch.”
Likewise, PRO created Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) “Ranes” for thorough investigation.
Meanwhile, Second District Representative Christopherson Yap in a public statement last December 14, said “I strongly condemn the violent killing of fellow Southern Leyteño, Gilbert Ranes, and express my condolences to his family and friends, especially his children. This kind of brutality has no place in a society that values human life and dignity.”
However, Yap also lauds Southern Leyte Provincial Police Office, through Provincial Director Police Colonel Hector Enage for responding to the incident “…for responding to.. this act of inhumanity to justice, and for reassuring the public that our Philippine National Police will not hesitate to prosecute even their own.”
Maasin City Mayor Nacional Mercado in a public statement “After having reviewed video footage of the incident, we strongly condemn the unnecessarry show and use of force in any form especially when carried out by agents of the state imbued with constitutional duties to protect the public.”
“…We firmly believe that the PNP leadership shall hold accountable and discipline any police officer, employee or any person who acts in violation of the Constitution, law, or regulations. We call on appropriate agencies and the top officials of the Philippine National Police to seriously look into this transgression, not only those agents of the state but also those other persons responsible for the death of Gilbert Ranes,” Mercado added.
Gilbert Ranes, a father of three, had no permanent job. He raised his family by tattooing clients and oftentimes went to the sea to catch fish.
Ranes left his children – a Grade 8 daughter, Grade 6 and Grade 4 sons – and his wife, a housemaid. He was the eldest son.
During our visit at their small house at Puting Ba-as, Ichon, his mother cried out loud saying, “Gusto mig hustisya! Dili nako madawat iyang pagkawala, nga na ing ato siya namatay” (We need justice. I cannot accept that he died that way).
His siblings, Jessel and Jennylyn described Gilbert as friendly, kind, modest person, helpful and a giver.
“Ilado kaayo siya diri nga hingamiguhon, ug wala mi amo magpabaylo si Manoy ug kwarta bisag ginagmay kung naa siya’y kita. Kung wala pud siya mubalos sad mi kung naay amo,” Jennylyn said in grief. (He is known in our barangay that he is a friendly person; he gives us money when we don’t have any, if we have ours we gave him also).
Ranes mother, best describes Ranes children as determined and talented, “Maka absent rana sila kun walay kaon kay dili man permanente ang kita; sa ilang pang kunsumo usahay muhatag mi. Usahay musod na sila sa skwelahan nga walay baon, maong usahay malibrehan sa mga maestro ug maestra”.
“What will we do with their future (referring to Ranes children), soon I will take the responsibility of my son, I don’t have enough funding to support their schooling because I have no job. I have my diabetic husband also who needs medication, but I cannot give enough because I am penniless. There came a time that my husband needed his medication but I could not buy any because his medicines are costly,” the mother said in distress.
The victim and his family live in an abandoned comfort room of an old lodging house after typhoon Odette destroyed their old house.