MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Monday defended policemen and soldiers who were involved in the bloody shootout in Atimonan, Quezon that left 13 suspected gang members dead.
Palace deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said the shootout was legitimate, as the suspects who were onboard two sports utility vehicles ignored a checkpoint and fired at authorities.
A policeman manning the checkpoint was injured in the incident.
Valte added that authorities received a tip about a group of gun-for-hires who was passing through the area.
Among the 13 slain suspects were 2 policemen and a soldier from the Air Force.
Eight .45 caliber pistols, as well as M-16 and M-14 rifles were seized from the suspects.
One of their vehicles had a commemorative plate of the Philippine National Police Academy, while the other vehicle had no license plate.
The provincial director of the Quezon police told ANC that the fatalities are believed to be from the "Vic Siman Group."
Among those slain was a Victorino Siman Jr.
"Apparently, [they were] involved in some nefarious activities in Region 4. These have been, tinatrabaho po ito ng intelligence community dito sa regional headquarters at tayo lamang ay tinap nila in the implementation kasi they received very reliable info that the certain group will traverse the long stretch of Quezon," said Senior Superintendent Valeriano de Leon.
"So nagkaroon po tayo ng checkpoint, legitimate one, meron tayong signage, meron tayong uniformed personnel. Nung sila'y huminto na doon sa lugar ng ating checkpoint, instead of submitting themselves for inspection, they fired upon immediately sa ating opisyal kaya tatlo yung tama ng opisyal natin," he added. - ANC