MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) is in full support of the investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on the shooting incident in Atimonan, Quezon that resulted in the deaths of 13 people, its spokesperson said on Thursday.
“Tulad ng buong bansa, ang PNP ay interesado ding malaman kung ano ‘yung totoong nangyari diyan sa Atimonan, Quezon,” Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo told dzMM.
The legitimacy of the police operation at a checkpoint in Atimonan has come under question amid allegations that the supposed encounter was not a shootout.
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said on Thursday that “no shootout” occurred, based on the accounts of two witnesses.
Cerbo said the PNP respects the statement of De Lima.
“Nirerespeto natin kung ano man ang naging pahayag ng ating secretary of justice…Sila ang lead agency, wala kami sa posisyon para naman kontrahin o komentan ang mga naging pahayag ng ating secretary,” he said.
Cerbo added that if results showed that there was no legitimate encounter between the law enforcers and the suspected criminal elements, those responsible should be punished.
“We have to learn from this experience. Kung talagang rubout ay tanggapin natin ‘yung mapait na katotohanan na ‘yan at panagutin ang mga dapat managot,” he said.
Cerbo also urged Supt. Hansel Marantan, suspended deputy chief of intelligence of Calabarzon police, to cooperate in the investigation.
Marantan, who was the ground commander of the operation in Atimonan, was shot in the knee.
“Dapat ay nakikipag-cooperate siya sa ginagawang pagtatanong sa kanya. Hindi maganda para sa katayuan niya na siya mismo ay pumipigil doon sa imbestigasyon,” said Cerbo.
Cerbo, however, noted that he has received reports that Marantan has been more cooperative recently compared to when he was first questioned.
Marantan has repeatedly denied that the gun battle was a “rubout.”