By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
A former top official of the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (NOPPO) was killed Monday night after allegedly fought back against members of the Philippine National Police-Counter Intelligence Task Force (PNP-CITF) and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) during a buy-bust operation in Dipolog City, Zamboanga Del Norte.
Police identified the fatality as Police Superintendent Santiago Rapiz, who previously served as police chief for Escalante City and Victorias City, along with formerly heading the NOPPO Police Community Relations office.
Based on a Police Regional Office-9 (PRO-9) report, the operation was conducted following a basketball game at the Andres Bonifacio College campus in Dipolog City.
During the handover, Rapiz reportedly discovered he was dealing with an undercover police officer and immediately attempted to flee, forcing PNP-CITF operatives and PDEA agents to give chase.
When former NOPPO official was cornered, he allegedly pulled out his service firearm and opened fire, forcing cops and PDEA agents to return fire, killing him on the spot.
Police recovered several sachets of suspected shabu, weighing around 25 grams; and a .45 caliber pistol.
Rapiz was one of the police officers earlier named by former Berya drug group bagman Ricky Serenio, suspected of receiving protection money from both illegal drugs and illegal gambling operations in Negros Occidental.
Before being assigned to NOPPO, the slain officer previously served under the Bacolod City Police Office and the now-defunct Police Regional Office-18.
Rapiz was also reportedly on President Rodrigo Duterte’s “narco-list” and linked to slain Iloilo-based drug lord Melvin Odicta.
The former NOPPO official was transferred to PRO-9 in 2016, after being named by Serenio, and was assigned to head the logistics office at the Zamboanga Del Norte Police Provincial Office.
Following his transfer, Rapiz was still regularly seen by members of local media in Negros Occidental, where he attended court hearings for drug-related cases he handled during his time in the province./DGB, WDJ