Mom belies police claim dad used toddler as 'human shield' in drug bust

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 4) — The mother of the 3-year-old girl who was caught in the crossfire of an anti-drug operation slammed police protocol and denied claims against her family.

The mother, who requested not to be named, disputed the claim of police that her three-year-old daughter Myca was used as a human shield by her father — alleged drug suspect Renato "Kato" Ulpina — during the drug raid conducted by the police in their home in Rodriguez, Rizal on June 29.

"Gusto kong i-correct yung sinasabi nilang 'human shield.' Wala namang human shield na naganap. Ako na buhay ang magpapatotoo. Doon ako nasaktan, sobrang mahal na mahal niya yang batang 'yan," she told CNN Philippines on Wednesday.

[Translation: I want to correct what they said [about her being a] 'human shield.' She was not used as a human shield, I can attest to that. That's what hurts me because her father loved her.]

She said her husband hugged Myca after she was hit by a stray bullet.

Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde on Thursday said Ulpina should've surrendered right away to protect his daughter should the situation escalate.

"We have to look this on both ways. The suspect, kung alam niya he has a child there inside, he should have surrendered. If you have your family inside your house, why won’t you surrender voluntarily and peacefully?" he told CNN Philippines' The Source.

The mother also denied the police claim that it was a buy-bust operation, wherein undercover cops engage with unsuspecting drug dealers. She lamented it was a raid, and said it was around 6 a.m. when the police smashed their window and entered their home.

"May buybust na nangyari daw, ibig sabihin may abutan o bayaran ng pera sa shabu. Nasaan ang marked money kung meron talagang buybust na nangyari? Sinasabi nila lehitimo. Nasaan ang warrant? Wala silang pinakita," she said.

[Translation: They said it was a buy-bust operation, meaning money was given in exchange for the drugs. But where is the marked money? They are saying it was a legitimate operation. Where is the warrant? They did not show any warrant.]

The mother is crying for justice for her slain child. Albayalde said they also lost a man in their ranks when Cabigao passed away due to the firefight. He added Cabigao also left two young children fatherless. 

"We’re not justifying the death of the child... Hindi tama ang may mapatay, lalo na itong bata. But then again, namatayan din ang PNP," he said.

Police defended Senior Master Sargeant Conrad Cabigao Jr., who fired the fatal shot. Calabarzon Police Chief Edward Carranza said Cabigao returned fire to defend himself after Ulpina shot him. Ulpina was the target of the operation, alleging he's involved in gun for hire, car theft, and illegal drug activities.

"Noong namutok, hindi naman kita ng pulis natin kung may bata o wala," Carranza said.

[Translation: During the firefight, the police were not able to see if a child was present.]

But Myca's mother said the police should have secured the area to make sure the anti-drug operation will not lead to collateral casualties.

"Sino ang may kapabayaan? Kami po ba? Dapat sinigurado muna nila. Dahil natutulog kami nung oras na 'yun... Sabi nila target nila yung asawa ko. Sana inassure nila na asawa ko na lang sana. Hindi yung nakadamay pa," she said.

[Translation: Who is to be blamed for their negligence? Is it us? Before they fired their guns, they should have secured the area, because we were asleep. They were saying my husband was the target. They should have made sure no one else got hurt.]

This is not the first time a child was killed in police operation. Four-year-old Skyler Abatayo was killed in 2018 and Danica May Garcia, 5, died in August 2016 in a drug raid. But Myca may be the youngest victim of the Duterte administration's drug war.

Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde has ordered the relief of 20 regional officers as the incident goes under investigation.

CNN Philippines correspondent Jelene Fule contributed to this report.