- Nepumuceno is the second member of the City Drug Enforcement Unit to have been killed in the last 10 years
- Intelligence sources describe him as a “specialist” in anti-drug operations
BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Rosario Street is a sidestreet here that is largely insignificant except for the fact that it is where the ancestral and current house of sitting Mayor Evelio Leonardia can be found.
On the last day of May, 2021, as the dead season started in Sugarlandia, Roue Senador was shot dead while riding his motorcycle.
Three more murders followed in June, some “drug related,” according to policemen.
Almost two months later, on 29 August, a Sunday, just as the tiempo muerto was about to end and the milling season was about to begin, another murder happened along Rosario Street.
The victim: Joseph Nepumuceno, a police staff sergeant, a non commissioned rank two steps up from the patrolman position.
Nepumuceno was relatively new, assigned to the City Drug Enforcement Unit or CDEU.
Almost a week into his murder, as officials heap praises on him and as the country’s top policeman, Guillermo Eleazar, and Mayor Evelio Leonardia both ordered a thorough probe into his murder, details about him and his work are starting to slowly unfold.
Ramel Sarona, who heads Police Station 1 that has jurisdiction over the slay case, said Nepumuceno was assigned to the CDEU for more than a year before his death.
He was also detailed with Police Station 3 under then Police Major Ruel Culanag, and was also assigned to Station 8.
DNX talked to three intelligence operatives, one a commissioned officer of the local police while the two others belong to different law enforcement agencies.
The two others prefer to call themselves “low level operators.”
All three requested this reporter to not disclose their names, ranks, even their agencies and specific assignments.
The commissioned officer was the first to be interviewed face to face in a location outside the city.
“The questions now after the killing of Joseph are: who is the biggest druglord in Negros Occidental? Who protects them?” he asked.
This officer claimed to have worked with Nepumuceno although he refused to elaborate.
Nepumuceno, praised by his officers as a policeman who lived within his means and one who lived up to his responsibilities, is not the first member of the CDEU to have been killed here.
Ten years ago, 4 November, Police Officer 3 Rolando Malate was shot dead while waiting for his daughter in front of her school along busy main street P. Hernaez.
The second source, an operative for an enforcement agency separate from but coordinating with the police in the anti-drug campaign, described Nepumuceno as “seryoso kag daw pirmi gapadalum (serious, almost brooding),” especially when it comes to work.
The first source said Nepumuceno was never fond of the limelight. In fact, until his death, his name was never mentioned in reports of the press even if these drug busts are “bigtime” or where the seizures of illicit drugs run up to several millions.
A case in point is the P18 million drug bust in Taculing village in 2020 (READ also: ‘Bonbon’ does a Jason Bourne but falls to cops), press accounts of which did not mention the role of Nepumuceno.
But what exactly was the work of Nepumuceno? Did it get him killed? Why?
(to be continued)