‘It was a legitimate operation,’ soldiers in Atimonan shooting say

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02:00 PM January 16th, 2013

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By: Tetch Torres, January 16th, 2013 02:00 PM

OVERKILL A member of the National Bureau of Investigation forensic team examines marks left by a hail of bullets that hit this SUV and another vehicle, and killed all 13 onboard, including police officers and soldiers. Most of the bullets were believed to have been fired by a police-military team stationed at a checkpoint in Atimonan, Quezon. RAFFY LERMA

MANILA, Philippines–Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippine who were involved in an alleged shootout in Atimonan, Quezon that killed 13 people maintained before the National Bureau of Investigation that the operation was legitimate.

“This [was] a legitimate operation. They were asked to assist the PNP (Philippine National Police) under Colonel (Hansel) Marantan,” lawyer Crisanto Buella, representing the military special forces, said Wednesday at the NBI.

Buella said Major General Alan Luga, Southern Luzon Commander; Lieutenant Colonel Monico Abang and Captain Erwin Macalinao, Commander of the 3rd Special Forces Company appeared before the NBI and submitted their affidavit.

“According to the affidavit, they were fired upon. The person inside the vehicle fired first,” Buella said.

The AFP came into the picture after the PNP sought their assistance that an armed group would pass by the area.

Buella explained that under the AFP and PNP memorandum of Agreement, the military can assist the PNP in operations like the one in Quezon last January 6.

All the firearms used by the military have been submitted for investigation by the NBI, Buella added.

Currently, Regional Director for Region IV-A Calabarzon Chief Superintendent James Melad is being questioned by the NBI.

The NBI has been tasked by Malacañang to investigate and determine what happened in the Atimonan incident and if any, determine who should be held liable.

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