But Quezon police chief, Senior Supt. Valeriano de Leon, immediately denied the allegation.
“It was not an encounter but salvage of innocent persons. They are not criminals. The police are lying,” the relative told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in an interview at the Funeraria Pagbilao here in Lucena City.
The kin who requested anonymity for security reasons called on the government to conduct an independent investigation.
De Leon vehemently refuted the “salvage” allegation.
“One of our police officer was wounded when the criminals opened fire. One of the bullets even pierced through his bone. Was that the kind of salvage operation?” De Leon told the Inquirer over the phone.
He said the relative’s reaction was natural for a person who lost a kin but was not present during the incident.
The rest of the victims’ families refused to talk to the media. They also requested the media not to take their photos and the bodies of the victims at the morgue of the funeral parlor.
The remains of the 13 victims were brought by members of Quezon scene of the crime operations (SOCO) investigators at the funeral parlor here for further examinations of the bodies.
Two of the victims were identified as a senior police official and a former municipal official of Sariaya, Quezon.
Chief Inspector Zaide Abrera, head of Quezon police-Scene of Crime Operations (SOCO), identified the slain police official as one Supt. Alfredo Consumino. His place of assignment is still unknown.
From the available record of Funeraria Pagbilao, the other victim was identified as Tirso Lontok Jr., former executive assistant to ex-Sariaya town Mayor Connie Doromal and also known as Mount Banahaw protection advocate.
The identities of the rest of the victims were still unavailable.
Zaide said it would take them three days to determine if the slain suspects fired guns before they were killed.
Aside from Consumino, De Leon said two of the other slain syndicate members were also policemen.
“We will disclose the identities of them all as soon as we’re finished with the investigation,” he said.
De Leon said the investigation was focusing on the intelligence report that the victims were members of a professional gun-for-hire syndicate.
“They were all heavily armed,” De Leon said.
He insisted that the operation was the result of a top level intelligence reports from police and military intelligence community.
Initial police report said investigators recovered eight .45 cal. pistols, one M-16 rifle and one M-14 rifle from the alleged criminals.
De Leon said the police investigators are looking into the angle that the victims have been tasked to carry out assassination job of target politicians.
“They may be targeting politicians,” he said.
The victims were killed in an alleged shootout with combined police and Army soldiers along the Maharlika Highway in the village of Tanauan in Atimonan town Sunday afternoon.
Police report said the government forces tried to flag down two black Montero sports utility vans (SUVs) carrying the suspects.
But instead of heeding the order, the suspects shot the lawmen which prompted the policemen and soldiers to return fire and killed all passengers of the vehicles.
The lawmen suffered no casualties during the exchange of gunfire but one of the policemen – Supt. Hansel Marantan, an official of the Philippine National Police-Southern Tagalog’s Special Operations Group – was hit in the hands and a leg.
He was taken to a hospital in Lucena City and is now out of danger.