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October 10, 2003

My son wasn't given chance to defend self: deaf-mute's mom

From: Sun Star, Philippines - Oct 10, 2003

By Harley F. Palangchao

THE mother Efren Agsayang, the 21-year-old deaf-mute who was mistakenly killed by policemen hunting down the seven Lepanto gold bar robbers, said Thursday that her son was never given the chance to defend himself, even by way of body gestures.

In a press conference, Nenita Agsayang, mother of the victim, said her son's death is a big loss to her, considering that he was also the breadwinner of the family.

"If my son was not deaf and mute, he could have easily told those policemen that he is not their target or a rebel, as presumed by them," Agsayang said in the vernacular, while crying bitterly in front of reporters.

Delia Agsayang, an aunt of the victim, said they were able to get the identity of the policeman who allegedly shot Efren, naming him as SPO3 Edgar Dawag, a member of the Benguet Provincial Police Office (BPPO).

She added that one of the two companions of the victim, Gener Lacbongan, admitted that they were mistakenly identified as members of the New Peoples Army and as possible suspects in the P12-million Lepanto gold bar heist.

Lacbongan reportedly managed to shout that they were not NPA rebels, but that it was already too late, since one of the policemen shot Agsayang, who died while being rushed to the Lepanto Mine Hospital.

Meanwhile, the mother of the victim said they would pursue plans of filing murder charges against the policemen, even as Dawag has reportedly offered to give the slain hunter's family an amount of P170,000 to settle the case amicably.

Earlier, Chief Supt. Victor Luga, director of the Police Regional Office in the Cordilleras, admitted that Agsayang was killed by erring policemen and apologized to the family of the victim.

Luga's admission confirmed previous news reports that a deaf-mute hunter in Tabbak, Mankayan, was killed by heavily-armed policemen, who were tracking down seven armed robbers that killed five Lepanto Mines employees and stole a P12-million gold bar from them last Sept. 20.

Luga said no less than Mankayan Mayor Materno Luspian complained that policemen belonging to the Benguet PPO mistakenly killed one of his constituents.

Sun.Star Network Online © 2003