We were tricked, say village watchmen in Mandaluyong shooting
Two of the three village watchmen in police custody for allegedly firing the first shots at the van carrying an already wounded woman to the hospital on Thursday night in Mandaluyong City are pleading for understanding, saying they had been tricked into taking action.
But Ernesto Fajardo and Wilmer Duron, village volunteers of Barangay Addition Hills, denied they fired a gun at all during the incident, in which police and several men in civilian clothes peppered a Mitsubishi Adventure AUV with bullets.
The fusillade killed the woman, Jonalyn Ambaon, and laborer Jomar Hayawun.
Two other men — Ambaon’s live-in partner Eliseo Aluad and van driver Danilo Santiago — suffered several gunshot wounds.
Police on Saturday urged the third watchman, Gilberto Gulpo, to surrender as they prepared to file homicide charges against him and Duron for the deaths of Ambaon and Hayawun.
As the investigation into the incident that also involved 10 policemen from Mandaluyong kicked into high gear on Saturday, Malacañang said there would be no cover-up and that some people would be held responsible for the fatal shooting.
Duron, 42, denied that they were carrying guns when they pursued the van in their patrol multicab on Thursday night.
“That’s not true, none of us had guns,” he said in an interview at the Mandaluyong City Police Station.
Duron said people “should not portray us as the bad guys” because they were also victims of false information. He said “one of the four men” who were involved in the first shooting incident a few minutes earlier in Barangay Addition Hills told them the people in the van were armed.
“We only responded [to the incident] but we were tricked into following the wrong van. The people in the van had no intention of stopping,” he said.
“They did not seem to be going to the hospital,” he added.
Witness testimonies and the result of the paraffin tests conducted on the watchmen would be the basis of the charges, according to Chief Insp. Norman dela Rosa, chief of the city’s police station investigation unit.
Supt. Enrique Agtarap, Mandaluyong’s acting police chief, said four more suspects — Abdurakman Alfin, Salam Abdul Majid and two others — underwent inquest proceedings on Friday and faced charges for alarm and scandal and physical injuries.
Agtarap said they were still waiting for the results of the Scene of the Crime Operatives paraffin tests to determine the liability of the 10 police officers involved in the incident.
The family of the victims are crying for justice.
“We hope the police who were behind this should be held liable,” said Romulo Sedano, Santiago’s uncle.
Director Oscar Albayalde, chief the National Capital Region Police Office, said at least 36 empty shells and slugs were recovered from the scene, possibly indicating lapses in police operational procedures.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the policemen, as well as the village officials and watchmen involved in the incident would be thoroughly questioned.
“The people can be sure that there will be no whitewash,” he said over Radyo ng Bayan.
The initial result of the police inquiry is not expected until next week, according to the PNP Internal Affairs Service (IAS).
A team of investigators has taken the statements of several people involved in the incident, including the nine policemen, said PNP-IAS Inspector General Alfegar Triambulo.
Senior Insp. Maria Cristina Vasquez, head of the PCP-1, had been relieved and placed under restrictive custody along with PO1 Alfred Uribe; PO2 Nel Samuel Songalia; PO1 Jave Arellano; PO1 Tito Danao; PO1 Mark Castillo; PO1 Julius Libuen; PO1 Bryan Nicolas; PO1 Albert Buwag; and PO1 Kim Rufford Tibunsay. —With reports from Leila B. Salaverria and Jeannette I. Andrade
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.