SILANG, Cavite—There should be no repeat of the bloody Atimonan, Quezon, incident.
President Aquino on Friday gave this marching order to the new graduates of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) as he called on them to tread his policy of “tuwid na daan (straight path).”
Addressing the 34th commencement exercises of the police academy here, the President warned the 252 members of the PNPA Tagapamagitan Class of 2013 that his administration would not tolerate those who violate the law.
He cited the bloody Atimonan, Quezon, incident, which stained the good image of the police service. “It’s very clear that somebody committed wrongdoing and put the law into their own hands,” Aquino said in his speech, which he delivered in Filipino.
“As the elections near, we cannot allow this tragedy to happen again. As additional forces to our uniformed service, I’m confident that you will help us in holding clean, honest and free elections which will determine our future,” he added.
As the commander-in-chief of the police and military, the President reminded the graduates that “obeying the law is not optional.”
“My order is very clear … I will not tolerate those who continue to disregard my directives,” he said, drawing laud applause from the crowd.
Thirteen people, including a PNPA graduate and two other police officers, were killed in a joint police and military checkpoint in Atimonan on Jan. 6, which the Philippine National Police (PNP) earlier claimed was a shootout and a legitimate police operation.
But separate investigations conducted by the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) found that the policemen and soldiers who took part in the operation broke several rules on engagement.
Exactly two months after the incident, Aquino ordered the filing of multiple murder charges against 21 PNP officers and 14 soldiers who took part in the operations.
Interestingly, the leader of the police operation, Supt. Hansel Marantan, is a member and class president of the PNPA Class 1998. Among the fatalities was Supt. Alfredo Consemino of PNPA Class 1986, who was then traveling with Vic Siman, an alleged gambling lord and said to be the target of the operation.
In his speech, Aquino reminded the new police, fire and jail officers that as public officials, they should “not fail our bosses—the Filipino people.”