Police allegedly involved in death of 4-year-old boy relieved from their posts

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 13) — Four policemen allegedly involved in the killing of four-year-old Skyler Abatayo in Cebu have been removed from their posts, the Philippine National Police said in a statement Friday.

The statement said PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde has ordered Central Visayas Regional Police Director Debold Sinas to relieve the policemen.

The four were also asked to surrender their firearms for ballistic examinations.

The PNP, however, said the stray bullet that killed Abatayo during an anti-drug operation last Tuesday in Barangay Ermita, Cebu City may not be from any of the policemen as they tested negative for gunpowder residue in paraffin tests.

"So far, paraffin test conducted on four (Drug Enforcement Unit) operatives -who figured in that said incident - turned out to be negative. This means that the four DEU operatives have not fired their handguns hence, may not have been responsible for the death of Skyler," it said.

The PNP expressed regrets over Abatayo's death and assured the family that it is looking into the incident.

"We express our deepest condolences to the bereaved family of Skyler Abatayo as we assure them that an impartial investigation by the PNP Internal Affairs Service is now being conducted in order to get to the bottom of this unfortunate incident," it said.

The statement added that the regional police's Internal Affairs Service and Scene of the Crime Operatives "are now collaborating to put all the pieces together in order that the real culprits will be arrested and put behind bars and justice will be served for Skyler and his bereaved family."

The PNP vowed to make accountable those who will be found guilty after a thorough investigation.

"The PNP will not hesitate to file any appropriate administrative or criminal charges if culpability by any of our personnel has been established after a thorough investigation by the PNP-IAS7," it said.

According to the PNP, continuous operations are being conducted to arrest the drug suspects who were the subjects of the operation.

The statement said that one of them was believed to have fired a handgun while escaping.

"Follow-up manhunt operations have been launched to track down the four drugs suspects, one of whom was believed to have fired his handgun as they made good their escape," it added.

CNN Philippines' Dale Israel contributed to this report.