Roxas warns uncooperative cops in ‘Atimonan 13’ investigation
MANILA, Philippines—Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II has threatened to relieve all police officers not cooperating with the investigation of the alleged shootout in Atimonan, Quezon that led to the death of 13 people.
“I will order (Region 4-A Calabarzon) Police Regional Director James Melad to fully cooperate and if ever they don’t cooperate they will be relieved [of duty],” Roxas said in a radio interview Tuesday.
The regional police command had reportedly not submitted what was asked from them to the Philippine National Police (PNP) fact-finding team. A complete list of police and military personnel involved in the alleged shootout, the results of the ballistics test, among others, were lacking in the report submitted to PNP Chief Director General Alan Purisima.
“If they have a problem and did not cooperate, did not show up, did not give their statements, then we will have reason to relieve all of them,” Roxas said.
“Wala tayong sasantuhin dito. Pasensyahan na lang tayo dito, hindi maaari na ang gobyerno pa ang maging kasangkapan sa pagtatago ng katotohanan sa tao (No one will be spared. No offense but it can’t be the government which should be the instrument to hide the truth from the people),” he added.
The incident, which many believe was a rubout of jueteng lord Victor Siman instead of a checkpoint encounter, had launched many investigations of several government agencies including the Senate, the Commission on Human Rights, and the National Police Commission.
The operation to catch Siman had not been approved by the Malacañang Palace, according to reports, and yet law enforcement authorities went ahead without approval.
Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr., PNP Spokesman, said that Purisima was still reading and studying the report of the fact-finding team after he had initially returned it for revisions in the form of the report.
When asked about the separate National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) findings that the shootout was “overkill,” Cerbo said that that statement was not yet final as the investigation was not yet concluded.
“[But] if at the end of the day, that is the findings of NBI, we will respect those findings. They are the lead agency of the government [and] we fully support their findings,” Cerbo said.
Echoing Purisima in a previous press conference, Cerbo said that whatever the findings and recommendations of the NBI, they will comply.
Roxas said that he will not allow this incident to destroy the reputation of the entire police force.
“In the past three years, the public’s perception of the PNP is steadily improving because of their good service,” Roxas said.
“There are incidents like this and we will not let these isolated incidents that are perpetrated by a group or faction within the PNP to destroy the entire force,” Roxas said.
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