Military clears men in Atimonan shooting
MANILA, Philippines - If the military is to be believed, what happened in Atimonan, Quezon, on January 6 was a shootout.
Maj Gen Allan Luga, commander of the military's Southern Luzon Command, said that according to his men involved in the incident the 13 suspects fired at them at a checkpoint, prompting them to return fire.
This contradicts reports showing that the police and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) have ruled out a shootout. All the 13 victims were killed, with most of them shot in the head.
Luga said he's taking the Special Forces soldiers' word for it -- for now. Thus, not one of the 25 Army soldiers involved in the incident has been subjected to administrative proceedings. They are restricted to barracks, though.
Luga said he based his judgment on the statement made by Lt Col Abang, the Special Forces battalion commander assigned to the Atimonan checkpoints.
"During the checkpoint operations when they blocked the two vehicles, they were fired upon that's why policemen and soldiers fired back," Luga told reporters at Camp Aguinaldo after the turnover ceremonies for the new chief of staff, Lt Gen Emmanuel Bautista. "Malinaw na sinabi sa akin ng SF Battalion commander na inunahan sila," Luga added.
Luga said he will allow the soldiers to be investigated by the NBI.
At the Philippine National Police, Director General Alan Purisima said they are now readying administrative charges against the police officers involved in the shooting.
Purisima said the case of the police officers led by Supt Hansel Marantan is now with the Internal Affairs Service.
The PNP earlier said noted the police violated several police operational procedures in the conduct of the checkpoint, such as not wearing the proper uniform and using unmarked vehicles. - Rappler.com