Police ‘acted on orders’ to validate ‘suicide’ of onion farmer

PANGASINAN Police Provincial Director Colonel Jeff Fanged confirmed Thursday evening, January 19, 2023, that there was an order from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to validate the statement of a Senate witness who claimed that her husband committed suicide due to losses incurred in onion farming.

Fanged said personnel of the Bayambang Police Station heeded the order of DILG Pangasinan Director Virgilio Sison to validate the incident.

“Acting on the said directive and in response to the request of DILG Mr. Sison, probers of Bayambang Police Station validated the said report wherein one Mrs. Merlita Gallardo, widow of Roger Ragos Gallado, the alleged person who committed suicide, was interviewed and she narrated the circumstances surrounding the death of her husband as follows: humiliation for not being able to pay their debt amounting to P500,000; accumulated loss amounting to P1.7 million capital used in onion farming and lastly, depression and stress from all the problems,” he said.

But Fanged said he will validate the reported harassment of Gallardo by police personnel, noting that if the allegations are found true, the cops will be subjected for corrective measures, saying such actions should not be tolerated.

On Thursday, Senator Imee Marcos said police went to the house of Gallardo in Bayambang, Pangasinan and asked Gallardo to sign an affidavit retracting her statements during the Senate inquiry into the rising prices of onions on Monday, January 16.

“Sa aking nakalap na impormasyon, limang beses na pinuntahan ng Bayambang PNP na pinamunuan ni PCMS Eduardo Santiago si Nanay Merly Gallardo, misis ng nag-suicide na magsisibuyas at pilit na pinapipirma sa affidavit para sabihin na hindi totoo ang testimonies nya sa hearing. Nanginginig na sa takot si nanay Merly dahil sa pinipilit sya ng mga pulis na pirmahan ang affidavit,” the senator said.

(Based information I have gathered, the Bayambang PNP led by PCMS Eduardo Santiago went five times to Nanay Merly Gallardo, wife of the suicide victim, and forced her to sign the affidavit to say that her testimonies in the hearing were not true. Nanay Merly was shaking with fear because the police were forcing her to sign the affidavit.)

“ Hands off lang po sa mga testigo ng Senado,” she added.

Marcos shared a photo of the copy of the order with a subject, "Request by NTF-Elcac for the verification of a reported case regarding the suicide of five farmers in Pangasinan."

The DILG and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) are yet to react on the matter.

“CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army) ba ang turing natin sa maliliit na magsasaka sa liblib? Hands off po sa ating mga testigo, lalu’t nagsasabi ng totoo, masakit man marinig,” said Marcos.

(Are we treating the small farmers in remote areas as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army? Hands off on our witnesses, especially if they’re telling the truth.) (SunStar Philippines)