PNP on killing of Calbayog mayor: His group fired first
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday (March 9) said that the group of Calbayog City Mayor Ronald Aquino fired the first shot in the gunfight that led to his killing.
In a statement, the PNP said Aquino’s group “was alleged to have initiated the shootout” when his bodyguards fired at an unmarked vehicle carrying policemen of the Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group (IMEG) and Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit (PDEU) “that was travelling in the same direction along the road.”
The PNP said the IMEG and PDEU teams, who were on inspection in the area, were involved in the gunfight on Monday on Laboyao Bridge in Samar province. The PNP denied the teams were after the mayor.
The two units, according to the PNP, “deny that Mayor Aquino was a subject of their operations or that he was targeted.” The special investigation task group “shall confirm the veracity of this statement,” it said.
It said that the policemen involved in the gunfight claimed “they were initially unaware of the passengers on board the vehicle that fired upon them.”
“It was only after the firefight that the said vehicle was identified to be owned by Mayor Aquino. The same remains to be validated,” the PNP said.
The exchange of fire killed the mayor and at least five other people, including a civilian caught in the crossfire. Killed in the group of Aquino aside from the mayor were a police escort and driver. At least two policemen were killed in the group that clashed with Aquino and his bodyguards.
The PNP said the case was a gunfight, not an ambush on Aquino. Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, a political ally of Aquino, claimed on TV that the police fired first, citing witnesses.
The PNP Eastern Visayas office has formed a special investigation task group for the case.
“Details of the incident remain to be sketchy,” the PNP said. It said initial findings have yet to be consolidated by the task group.
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