Aquino sees ‘inconsistencies’ in Quezon shootout-A A +A
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
MANILA (Updated) -- President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday saw a lot of “inconsistencies” in the shootout in Atimonan, Quezon that resulted in the death of 13 people, including three policemen and three soldiers.
Aquino said it was Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Alan Purisima who initially informed him about the incident last Sunday.
“Siyempre, unang-unang reaction, labing-tatlong namatay, medyo maraming namatay, tapos may presumption of regularity, initially. May nasugatan on the side of the people who are manning the checkpoint. On the surface, parang may proof na may encounter. However, I asked for a lot of the details at doon sa details medyo napag-isip na ako doon sa salaysay na ibinigay,” Aquino said in an interview in Malacanang.
Doubtful of the facts he received, Aquino said he tasked Purisima and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II to look deeper into the case and look for the “not normative” side of the incident.
Citing pictures of the crime scene published in two national broadsheets, Aquino said there was inconsistency that the checkpoint, where the shootout occurred, was “clearly established."
He also noted that the Quezon incident was different from other reports of harassment at checkpoints as the victims, who were supposed to be pprehended, were outrightly killed.
Families of slain civilians had said the firefight was not a legitimate operation but a rubout. They went to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to formally submit their complaints against the policemen who were involved in the encounter.
A team of NBI agents already went to Atimonan to conduct a re-autopsy and a medico legal examination as requested by the victim’s relatives.
Separately, Roxas said there were two checkpoints about 500 meters before and 500 meters after the actual checkpoint, which should bear a signage asking motorists to slow down for inspection.
The first one had the said signage and was manned by four PNP personnel who were in uniform.
"Naka-uniporme po sila at kasama nila [ay] isang PNP marked vehicle. So ibig sabihin, malinaw na opisyal na babala ito na magkakaroon ng checkpoint, 500 meters down the road," said Roxas.
The second checkpoint, which was nearer to Manila but was not reached by the suspected criminals, was manned by three PNP personnel in uniform but there was no marked vehicle.
In the actual checkpoint where the incident occurred, Roxas said there were no PNP signages and marked government vehicles.
Also, of the almost 40 personnel manning the post, only the Atimonan police chief was in uniform, according to Roxas.
"There were roughly 15 [intelligence] operatives, lahat po sila naka civilian and there were more or less 25 army personnel in fatigue camouflage," he said.
Purisima said "there is violation of police operational procedures on the conduct of police checkpoint," adding that policemen should be in their uniform while manning these posts.
Quezon provincial director Senior Superintendent Valeriano de Leon and 15 of his men were relieved from their posts for their alleged involvement in the encounter.
"All other policemen that were part of the operation, yung mga hindi opisyal, are deemed in restricted custody," said Roxas.
He said they will be staying in their quarters and are prohibited to leave Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna.
Roxas said they are still gathering information about the other involved police officers who were also ordered to face the NBI.
NBI Deputy Director Virgilio Mendez said that to ensure their independence, investigators are not looking at any particular angle at the moment until they have culled sufficient evidence, contrary to earlier reports that the encounter could have something to do with gambling issues in the province.
“We will give our best para mapabilis to give answers to public and media. Rest assured that there will be no sacred cows here. Bahala na kung sino ang matatamaan,” he said.
The victims’ family said they decided to immediately ask the assistance of the NBI following the order of President Aquino for the NBI to be the sole agency that will investigate the incident. The President said he did it to avoid bias, particularly toward the PNP.
Among those who went to the NBI were the daughter of Superintendent Alfredo Consemino, Christine; Christopher Siman, brother of Vic Siman Atienza, a barangay chairman; and Rodita Sansing, sister of Paul Teojilo, a real estate manager.
Christine said his father, who owned a security agency, had with him an amount of P5 million, which he was supposed to pay to a multinational corporation as bond for getting the services of his agency.
She denied that the money was illegally obtained or through gambling collections.
But Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the involvement of the parties in jueteng is not something that should b overlooked, especially if there are leads pointing to that direction.
As of Wednesday, paraffin tests show that eight of the fatalities have been found positive for gunpowder, according to Roxas.
The first vehicle boarded by the suspected criminals had 186 bullet holes while the second one had over 50 bullet holes, he said.
He added that 13 of the 14 firearms recovered were licensed and only seven had permit to carry. About P265,000 in cash was also recovered and was turned over to the Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco).
The PNP fact-finding team has yet to produce its final report on the alleged shootout which will be transmitted to the NBI.
Roxas and Purisima said they will support and cooperate with the said agency.
Aquino, meanwhile, said the incident should not be seen as a test case on the leadership of Purisima, who assumed office only last month.
The Chief Executive said Purisima has been “proactive” in doing his duties, citing the PNP’s preparation for the upcoming elections and reforms on recruitment of PNP personnel. (Jill Beltran/Emmanuel Louis Bacani/JCV/Sunnex)