'Quezon police still have a lot of questions to answer'
MANILA, Philippines -- The Quezon Provincial Police still have a lot of explaining to do regarding the alleged shootout that killed 13 people in Atimonan, Quezon Sunday, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo said Tuesday.
The Quezon Police earlier said the alleged encounter occurred after the men on board two sports utility vehicles refused an inspection and opened fire at a joint police and military checkpoint along Maharlika Highway in Barangay Lumutan.
Police said they received a tip an alleged gun-for-hire group led by Vic Siman would pass through Atimonan after a meeting in Camarines Norte. This intelligence report prompted them and the military to set up a checkpoint, they said.
Cerbo told radio dzMM that Supt. Hansel Marantan, who was wounded in the shooting incident, was the one who tipped the Quezon Police regarding the alleged private armed group.
"Siya rin ang nakipag-coordinate sa Quezon Police para magsagawa ng checkpoint to intercept itong grupo ni Siman at 'yun nga po nagkaroon ng engkwentro," Cerbo added.
However, Marantan, who is also the deputy chief of the regional intelligence division, is now being linked to jueteng operations in the province.
In an interview with radio dzMM Tuesday morning, retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz admitted to hearing the names of Marantan and Siman as among those involved in jueteng operations.
Cruz believes the shooting incident may have been a turf war over jueteng or over jueteng kickbacks.
Cerbo said, "Maraming issues na lumalabas sa pagcoconduct ng checkpoint. I agree na maraming dapat ipaliwanag 'yung ating mga units sa Quezon Provincial Police Office at 'yung ating intelligence unit sa Quezon Police Regional Office."
"Kaya nga minabuti ng ating Chief PNP na si General Alan Purisima na mag-create ng task force o fact-finding team," he added.
Reports that some P100 million allegedly in the possession of the slain men are missing have raised more questions about the police operation.
Cerbo said according to the latest report of the provincial director of Quezon Police, authorities indeed recovered money from the site of the incident.
"Meron silang inventory list at aalamin po natin kung ano ang laman nito. 'Yung mga narecover nila, bukod sa baril at personal items ay meron ngang kasamang pera. 'Di ko lang alam kung anong exact amount," he said.
Cerbo also said that while the operation conducted by the Quezon Police was authorized by the provincial director, it will also be his responsibility if authorities find any violations in the incident.
"'Yung operations na nangyari is talagang within the authority naman ng mga commanders po natin. Like the provincial director, nasa authority naman po niya kung maglalaunch sila ng ganyang operations."
"'Yun nga po, responsible sila diyan at pananagutan nila kung magkaroon man ng breach of procedure sa gagawin nilang checkpoint. Kung may lalabas dito na nag-violate ng rules of engagement, to the extent na file-an sila ng criminal charges, gagawin po 'yan ng PNP," Cerbo said.