Lone survivor of Payatas ‘birthday massacre’ attributed to ‘Davao Boys’ missing

CHILLING WARNING: Charles Owen Molinos, one of the Davao Boys, posted this picture of himself on Facebook. SDEU stands for “station drug enforcement unit.” Photo from Reuters

MANILA, Philippines — The killing of Cherwen Polo and three friends as he celebrated his birthday in Payatas on August 14, 2016 has regained media attention after Reuters exposed the so-called “Davao Boys,” a group of policemen from the south who had been assigned to Quezon City Police District Station 6, which accounted for scores of killings during anti-drug operations from June 2016 to July 2017.

Davao Boys were among the policemen who forced their way inside Polo’s home and forced his wife and three children outside before shooting him, his friends Darwin Hamoy, William Bordeos, and a certain “Rambo,” Reuters reported.

THE DAVAO BOYS | How a secretive QC police squad racked up kills in Duterte’s drug war

But the story of another buddy who was present at the party, Harold Arevalo, is worth looking at, too. A tricycle driver, he managed to flee the house while the supposed gunfight between the cops and the victims was happening.

Arevalo was later slapped with charges of direct assault by the QCPD on August 22, 2016.

Relatives of the fatalities, in a letter to the Philippine National Police’s Internal Affairs Service last month, sought a deeper investigation into the incident and raised doubts about what SPO1 Jun Ralph Pinero, the team leader who led what authorities insist was a buy-bust operation against Polo that night, called “defensively return(ing) fire at the assailants” to “preserve the life of our team member.”

Kin of 3 killed in Payatas ask IAS for deeper probe of cops involved

The relatives insisted there was “no buy-bust, given the very cramped passageways outside the Polo residence, with no evidence in any of the houses around it of the discharge of weapons during the said buy-bust.”

“If the gunfight did happen, why did survivor Harold Arevalo ‘escape’ by jumping out a window that was facing the line of fire of the police from outside the house?” the relatives asked.

They added: “Why did QCPD file a case only for direct assault versus survivor Harold Arevalo, and yet claim that they recovered drugs at the crime scene which was jointly owned by all the ‘suspects’?”

Arevalo was acquitted by Judge Analie Oga Brual of Branch 41 of the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court last month. In her decision, the judge said there was insufficient evidence he had fought back against the police. In his defense, he said he was merely a guest at his friend’s celebration.

But despite his court victory, life will never be the same for Arevalo, who appears to have gone into hiding.

News5 visited his home on Thursday and could not find him there. Even his wife’s small carinderia had shut down.

The news crew then tried to locate him at the Batasan Tricycle Operators Drivers Association, which he is a part of. He was not there. His tricycle was no longer part of the queue, either.