PNP official: Quezon shootout has Palace blessing-A A +A
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
MANILA -- Contrary to Malacañang's claims that it had ordered to shelve case operation (Coplan) Armado, sacked Southern Luzon regional director Chief Superintendent James Melad on Wednesday insisted that the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) had approved of the "project."
Melad appeared at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which summoned him to shed light on the shootout that led to the killing of 13 people in Atimonan, Quezon, last January 6. His relief was announced on Tuesday by Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II.
The NBI was tasked by President Benigno Aquino III to be the lead agency that would probe the incident.
Speaking for the first time to reporters following his relief from his post, Melad belied what Palace officials had earlier said – that the operation was not legitimate because the project had been rejected and should not have proceeded.
The PAOCC, chaired by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., earlier claimed that the plan was disapproved, and that it was not a party to the shootout.
"Kasi dito I signed the Coplan, but I do not exactly know or did memorize the content of the Coplan. In-approve ko, sabi ko magandang project," he said. "The disapproval is only on the portion of funding. On operation, go pa rin."
When pressed by reporters whether the PAOCC knew that the operation would continue, he said: "Alam (but) that's for them to answer... I can't answer for them."
Based on his assessment of the situation, Melad said it was a good plan as submitted by Superintendent Hansel Marantan, the chief for intelligence of the Calabarzon police office, which was why he gave his seal of approval to bring it to the PAOCC "for funding purposes."
Marantan was the only one hurt among the police force during the shootout. He was the one who proposed the Coplan, which sought to contain a group led by Vic Siman, one of the 13 slain at the checkpoint in Atimonan, Quezon. Siman was allegedly involved in a number of illegal activities, including gambling operations, illegal drugs and gun-running activities.
Melad said that even without the Palace approval, the operation would still proceed because the submission of the project to PAOCC was only for funding support. The group initially requested that an amount of P900,000 be released for the project.
During the media briefing at the NBI, Melad also lost his cool several times, especially when he was asked about the leak of an alleged Philippine National Police (PNP) fact-finding committee report that said the incident smacks of a rubout.
"That was one case of irresponsibility. If there was a leak, that is a case of irresponsibility on the part of those holding this report," he said.
He added that his appearance at the NBI should indicate his willingness to cooperate in the investigation, "and to show that we really want to seek the truth in this incident."
Melad said that he is not yet required to submit an affidavit, but he said that his group's initial report was submitted to the PNP headquarters, but was apparently set aside by the higher police officials.
On Thursday, the PNP Crime Laboratory will turn over the physical evidence to the NBI at the Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna, said the bureau's Death Investigation Division head Danielito Laluces in a text message. (JCV/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)