Cops, soldiers in ‘shootout’ detained; wounded officer submits affidavit
MANILA, Philippines—Twenty policemen involved in the Atimonan incident are now under the custody of the police in Camp Crame while 15 soldiers of the Army’s Special Forces who were part of an augmentation team are now restricted to quarters at the Army Headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.
Thirteen people were killed, including a police colonel, his two aides, two Air Force men, and Victor “Vic” Siman, an alleged jueteng operator, in the incident which the police initially said was a shoot-out with a gun-for-hire group.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has been tasked by President Aquino to investigate the killings that had left many questions even to the President himself.
Mr. Aquino told the Inquirer in a chance interview earlier this week that he wants an “unassailable” report by the NBI.
NBI investigators led by Danielito Lalusi and Frederico Criste arrived in Camp Crame late Friday afternoon and proceeded to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Hospital where Police Superintendent Hansel Marantan, the leader of the police team in the Atimonan incident, is now confined.
Marantan will undergo therapy for the gunshot wounds he allegedly sustained during the shoot-out.
“We didn’t ask him any questions. He just submitted his affidavit,” NBI special investigator Frederico Criste told reporters.
From the hospital they proceeded to the Kiangan Hall, a lodging for policemen, where 20 of the 22 policemen involved in the Atimonan incident are staying. The 22 policemen are now facing administrative charges.
Lalusi said that 10 policemen, including Marantan, submitted their affidavits yesterday.
“They are all very cooperative,” Lalusi said, adding that of the 22 policemen involved, only one has yet to submit his affidavit because he has yet to consult with his lawyer.
Lalusi said the policemen’s affidavits would help the NBI determine the position of each policeman at the scene as investigators are reconstructing the incident—what happened before, during and after.
“We got their statements to find out what was the participation of each one. The investigation cannot be a sweeping one. We have to find out from each soldier and policeman where there were at that time and their individual participation,” said Criste.
Criste said NBI agents have also spoken to the members of the Army’s Special Forces (SF) who were part of an augmentation team requested by the police on Jan. 6.
Fifteen soldiers are now restricted to quarters at the Army Headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.
“They (soldiers) gave a factual account what they saw and what they heard,” Criste said.
Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista told the Inquirer in a text message that the military is waiting for the results of the NBI investigation when asked if the Special Forces officers and men would face administrative charges.
“Our SF troopers concerned are still placed on restricted to quarters status for the purpose of the ongoing investigations of the NBI… Since they are restricted to quarters, they cannot go on operation nor undergo training exercises,” Burgos said.
The soldiers’ leaves and rest and recreation privileges have also been cancelled, he added.
Burgos said the Special Forces troopers “will be made available each time the investigating authorities summon them to appear for questioning.”