MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Wednesday raised several questions about the alleged shootout in Atimonan, Quezon that left 13 people dead.
Speaking to ANC, de Lima said the 2 vehicles used by the 13 victims were "peppered with almost 200 bullets."
She said the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) must find out why the 13, which included a ranking police official and 2 police officers, were passing through Atimonan, Quezon last Sunday.
"What were they doing there? Why are they in 2 cars? What was their mission and where were they going? Was it a legitimate mission or a criminal activity, an intended criminal activity? Supposedly there was a tip. Who gave the tip?" she said in an interview with ANC's Headstart.
De Lima noted that the joint police-military team that engaged in the alleged shootout had only one casualty, Superintendent Hansel Marantan, who is accused of having a sibling engaged in illegal gambling.
"What is the basis of involving Army personnel in that kind of operation? Was it a legitimate operation? Did they just wanted to check on the presence of loose firearms? The group of Marantan - kanino sila nakipag-coordinate and what exactly was their mission?"
The justice chief said she also wants an investigation on reports that the SOCO team was not immediately given access to the scene.
De Lima noted Marantan has been linked to several shooting incidents that were allegedly "rubouts" of criminal elements. She said the Quezon shooting would be the 5th incident linked to Marantan.
The justice official said she is set to meet Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Philippine National Police chief Alan Purisima to discuss the investigation into the Quezon incident.
Asked if she will recommend Marantan’s relief, she said: “I would recommend that.”
“It will be subject to their internal rules but there is always basis to temporarily relieve them and confine them to quarters pending investigation,” she said.