SANTA ROSA CITY — Police Officer 3 Jennyson Serrano had started wearing a bullet-proof vest even when it was unnecessary. That struck his colleagues as odd. On February 1, it became clear wh
That day, Serrano had just clocked out of work as a base camp officer assigned at the Camp General Paciano Rizal in Barangay Bubukal when he was killed by his fellow policemen in Santa Cruz town.
Even when Serrano had already detected that he was being watched for his alleged drug dealing, he did not see what was coming that day. Members of the Laguna police intelligence unit had set up a buy-bust operation against him, not too far from the camp where Serrano, 45, had served for years.
According to the police report, Serrano, already in civilian clothes, left on his motorcycle after agreeing to meet with a police asset on the street for a quick drug transaction. Serrano allegedly sold a sachet of shabu for Php7,000 but then pulled out and fired his 9mm service firearm, triggering a shootout.
Police said they later found more bags of suspected shabu weighing about 110 grams or worth P400,000 in the compartment of Serrano’s motorcycle.
The man known in the communities he frequented as “Sir” had been living a double life, providing “protection” to illegal drug pushers in the fourth district of Laguna. He lived in the adjacent town of Pagsanjan.
“I didn’t know him personally. I would see him around and he would salute (the officers),” said Laguna police director Sr. Supt. Eleazar Matta, who stays and holds office in the same camp.
“When I came here, I’ve already been told about it,” Matta, who was assigned to Laguna in October 2018, said in a phone interview, referring to Serrano’s alleged illegal activities. “Perhaps he thought that his being assigned (in the camp) would make us protect him.”
Asked whether he had noticed anything unusual about Serrano prior to the operation on February 1, Matta said Serrano began wearing a bullet-proof vest even when he didn’t have to. “He had been warned,” Matta said, without elaborating whether the warning to Serrano was done personally by his superiors or colleagues, or if it was a blanket reprimand to rogue policemen.
Serrano was not the first allegedly corrupt police officer to fall. The so-called “internal cleansing” in the Philippine National Police has been going on as part of President Duterte’s promise to crack down on illegal drugs. This has been echoed down regional levels, particularly by former Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon (Calabarzon) police chiefs Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar, who was later transferred to the National Capital Region, and by the current one, Chief Supt. Edward Carranza.
According to regional police data from July 1, 2016, to February 21, 2019, Serrano was the only one among active, retired, or AWOL (on absence without leave) cops who have been killed as a suspect in anti-drug operations in Laguna. No one had been arrested yet within that same period in Laguna.
The same data showed that 20 policemen were arrested as drug suspects elsewhere in the region, eight — all active police officers in Cavite — were injured during operations, while another one was killed in Quezon.
Laguna Now’s data, however, showed that another policeman was killed as a suspect in a drug buy bust in Biñan City a few days after Serrano’s death, on February 4. But unlike Serrano, who reported for duty up to the time of his death, Police Officer 1 Anthony Bautista, 38, had been AWOL.
Bautista was killed when he allegedly resisted arrest. A police report said he “disposed” as much as 100 to 500 grams of shabu weekly. (Laguna Now)