Briones: Targeting cops

Publio Briones

I DON’T envy the cops linked to retired Police Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo.

Not much has been reported about Garbo since he was tagged by President Rodrigo Duterte as one of the five “narco-generals” who protected drug lords. In fact, I tried to search for his whereabouts on the internet, but I came out empty-handed. Then again, I’m not a millennial so I probably went about it the wrong way, which would explain the nada results.

Anyway, for police officers close to him, the last 12 months must have been harrowing. Fatal, actually, for two alleged members of his posse.

On Dec. 23, 2018, Corp. Romeo Jumalon was shot dead by four unidentified men outside his house in Barangay Pit-os, Cebu City. Jumalon was Garbo’s former driver before he was assigned to the Regional Personnel Holding and Administration Unit of the Police Regional Office 7.

However, investigators were saying his murder might have had something to do with his work as a casino financier, although I always wondered how an ordinary cop could transition to become a lifeline for gambling aficionados.

On May 3, 2019, Master Sgt. Joseph Villamor, who was assigned at the Maritime Group, was gunned down by two assailants also in front of his house in Barangay Babag, Lapu-Lapu City.

And get this, Villamor, too, used to serve as Garbo’s driver before his transfer to the Lapu-Lapu City Intelligence Branch. He was later reassigned to the Maritime Group in 2015.

Police, though, had no idea why he was killed.

Then last Thursday, Dec. 26, unidentified gunmen struck again. This time, their target was Patrolman Percival Eborlas.

I know what you’re thinking. Eborlas must have also served as Garbo’s driver, right? Unfortunately, the report didn’t say how he was connected to the alleged narco-general.

Either way, Eborlas could count himself lucky that he survived with gunshot wounds in the feet. Apparently, the gunmen retreated when they saw they had also shot the policeman’s niece.

The attack took place—you guessed it—outside his house in Barangay Basak San Nicolas.

The investigator at the Mambaling Police Station admitted that they were not getting help from Eborlas’ family or neighbors who witnessed the shooting. For one, his family reportedly would not give them the name of the hospital where he is undergoing treatment.

Then again, aren’t hospitals duty-bound to report to authorities victims of shooting incidents? Or have I just been watching too many American police dramas?

Anyway, Eborlas must have returned to Cebu for the holidays since, according to the report, he received an order to transfer to a unit in Negros Oriental last October. Before that, he was with the intelligence branch of the Cebu City Police Office and the Cebu Police Provincial Office.

Actually, the report did not say he heeded the order. So has he been absent without official leave all this time? I’m just wondering. As the investigator said, his family would not answer their questions.

But there’s one thing I do know. Eborlas’ nightmare is just beginning. There’s no saying his attackers won’t return to finish the job once he gets out of the hospital. He’ll have to spend the rest of his life looking over his shoulder or in hiding.