Police to sue Abra exec over shootout
The Philippine National Police will pursue criminal charges against reelectionist Vice Mayor Jaja Josefina Disono of Pilar, Abra, over Tuesday’s shootout between her security escorts and local police officers that left one dead.
Col. Jean Fajardo, the PNP spokesperson, said the house of Disono remained cordoned off by policemen on Wednesday as her camp refused to cooperate with authorities to yield the firearms used and the occupants of the van who sought refuge in the vice mayor’s compound after a pursuit.
“As of this morning (Wednesday), we received information that no negotiation is expected to happen so they can surrender the other occupants of the Toyota van that clashed with our police, as well as the guns,” she said at a press briefing at the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City, on Wednesday.
“The people there are already gone, but their lawyer is there so they will just face whatever cases that the PNP will file against those involved in the incident,” Fajardo added.
Reports on Wednesday night, however, indicated that policemen were able to enter Disono’s compound.
Initial investigation showed that a Toyota HiAce van carrying Disono’s security aides ignored a checkpoint in the town’s Barangay Poblacion around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, and sped off after narrowly hitting two police officers of the Cordillera Police Regional Mobile Force Battalion.
During the pursuit, policemen reportedly returned fire when a bullet pierced through the windshield and rear of a police vehicle.
The van proceeded to the house of Disono, who refused to leave her compound as soon as it was surrounded by police officers. Disono is sister of Pilar Mayor Mark Roland Somera.
“Prior to the setting up of checkpoints, we already received intelligence information from the Cordillera regional police about the existence of armed groups in Abra province,” Fajardo said.
Killed in the shootout was Sandee Boy Bermudo, one of Disono’s security aides.
According to Fajardo, Bermudo was a former member of the Philippine Marines. He enlisted in 2008, but had been absent without official leave in the military since 2014.
The PNP spokesperson said his body would undergo autopsy and a paraffin test to confirm if he fired a gun.
In a radio interview on Tuesday, Disono confirmed the death of her security escort as she claimed that they were ambushed while returning home from the town hall.
She said her van was allowed to pass through the checkpoint, but a second vehicle carrying her security aides was stopped by men in civilian clothes.
On Wednesday afternoon, a video clip purportedly recorded by the dash camera of the van began circulating online.
It shows the vehicle’s driver ignoring policemen flagging it down at the Pilar checkpoint and stepping on the gas when armed lawmen tried to stop it. The one-minute clip was posted on the abrenian.com Facebook page.
Fajardo said police also recovered a 9mm pistol inside the van, which was registered to Disono.
“While it is true that the gun had a license to own and possess firearms and permit to carry firearms outside of residence, these were suspended when the election started in January,” she noted.
The Cordillera police and the regional office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) did not receive any request for gun exemption as well as employment of protective security detail from Disono’s camp, which constitutes an election offense, Fajardo added.
The investigation is still ongoing, but Fajardo said the incident might be classified as an election-related incident.
According to Fajardo, PNP chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos already reported the case to Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.
“And since the other party refused to cooperate with the investigation, the PNP intends to initiate appropriate police action to resolve this case,” she said.
In a telephone interview, lawyer Vanessa Mico-Roncal, Comelec deputy director for the Cordillera, said it had yet to receive a formal investigation report or a recommendation from the police about the shootout.
According to Roncal, the Cordillera Regional Joint Security Control Center chaired by the Comelec and composed of representatives from the police and military would address the issue once it receives a report from the police since it is tasked with determining if political violence had occurred during the election period.
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