MANILA, Philippines—A fact-finding team has been created to conduct a “thorough and proper” investigation into the alleged shootout in Quezon province that led to the death of 13 people, three of whom were policemen and three others were soldiers, police said Tuesday.
Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. told reporters that the fact finding team was led by Senior Superintendent Federico Castro, Deputy Director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
Castro will be assisted by officers from the PNP crime laboratory, intelligence services, firearms and explosives office, highway patrol group, and other support units, Cerbo said.
The team, which arrived in Atimonan, Quezon, on Monday, began the probe and will also investigate if the violence was linked to illegal gambling.
A reenactment of the alleged shootout that occurred on Sunday was set to be conducted Tuesday, Cerbo said.
Among those killed on Sunday was Senior Superintendent Alfredo Consemino, while two others killed were his aides.
Consemino was allegedly a partner of Victorino “Siman” Atienza, who operated a highly lucrative illegal numbers game called “jueteng”, press reports said.
Cerbo said Atienza was himself killed in the alleged shootout.
Cerbo would not confirm allegations that Consemino was a police officer on the take, but said the allegations were being investigated.
“The investigation will try to find out why these police personnel were in the company of an alleged gambling operator,” Cerbo said.
Cerbo said that the fact-finding team was formed on orders of PNP Chief Alan Purisima, directing investigating policemen to get all the facts of the case.
“His general instruction is to be thorough and proper,” Cerbo said.
“We want to find out if there had been any breach of procedure or criminal acts that were committed in this encounter,” he said.
Cerbo said the fact-finding team would also investigate claims by relatives of the dead that they were summarily killed and not slain in a gunfight.
“The official police report of our personnel on the ground said it was a shootout between the elements of a private armed group and the police and the military,” Cerbo said.
“But with this allegation of a ‘rubout’ (slang for summary execution) we have decided to create a fact finding team to get to the bottom of this incident.”
Press reports said Consemino may have been feuding with the police officer who led the team that manned the roadblock and who himself may be protecting another jueteng operator.
“We will (also) look into that particular observation,” Cerbo said.
Jueteng is an illegal lottery known to generate hundreds of millions of pesos in proceeds, some of which finance campaigns by local politicians, officials have said.
The team will also verify several reports saying there was a certain amount of money recovered from the scene, Cerbo said.
He added that in the initial report submitted to Chief Superintendent James Melad, Region 4-A Director, there was “a proper accounting of all items recovered from the scene … there was money but it was not indicated how much.”
The team will also look into the reports coming out in the media that the security personnel who conducted the checkpoint were not wearing their uniforms, a violation of the standard operating procedure, Cerbo said.
“That will also be a subject of investigation, there might be a valid explanation, but definitely they should be in uniform when conducting checkpoints,” he said.
The reports that jueteng, an illegal numbers game, was the cause of the encounter will be looked into by the fact-finding team, Cerbo added.
Once the report comes out, Cerbo said that they will file the appropriate charges against whoever would be found liable.
Corruption has long been a problem in the Philippines, including in the police and armed forces.
President Benigno Aquino, who came to office in 2010, has said fighting graft through all sectors of society is his administration’s top priority. With Agence France-Presse