Probes into QC 'encounter' ordered

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 19 2009 11:19 AM | Updated as of Feb 19 2009 07:26 PM

The Commission on Human Rights, the National Police Commission, and the Philippine National Police will conduct separate probes into the deaths of three suspected car thieves along EDSA in Quezon City last Tuesday.

Eduardo Escueta, vice chairman of the National Police Commission (Napolcom), said a fact-finding team of the agency started its investigation Thursday morning.

Escueta said the investigation will start with the ABS-CBN News footage of a number of policemen shooting at the already "immobilized" occupants of a stolen Honda Civic, with plate number AED-115, at close range. Police killed three suspects in the incident.

He said the fact-finding team will also try to interview civilian witnesses who may be able to give them more details about the supposed shootout.

Escueta said that based on what he saw from the footage, policemen involved in the encounter may have violated the Philippine National Police's Operational Procedure (POP).

He said that based on the POP, policemen should try to convince cornered suspects to surrender. He said the policemen should have also tried to determine if the suspects inside the car were already immobilized.

"It's not supposed to be like that. The vehicle was already parked and there was no activity, you will approach it and then shoot at its occupants," Escueta said, referring to what he saw from the ABS-CBN News footage.

He said the Napolcom has yet to identify the policemen involved in the operation, but assured that it would not be difficult for the agency to get the operatives' names.

'Jesus Christ!'

Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairwoman Leila de Lima, meanwhile, said it would be premature for her to say if the suspected car thieves were rubbed out by policemen.

De Lima said her "Jesus Christ!" remark Wednesday after she was shown the footage was just an expression of a normal person who saw a police shooting at a possibly already dead suspect.

"It would be premature for me to have any conclusion. I have to express what I felt yesterday after watching the footage," she said.

She said the CHR has also formed an investigating team to look into the possible violations committed by policemen. She said the agency will try to get the PNP to cooperate in its investigation.

Fired back?

Chief Superintendent Nicanor Bartolome, PNP spokesman, said police chief Director General Jesus Verzosa had already ordered an investigation.

Bartolome said a police investigating team is already getting all the details of the supposed shootout.

He said the shootout started with a car chase between the suspects and Highway Patrol Group operatives in Mandaluyong City. He said the operatives called the Quezon City Police District and requested for checkpoints while the pursuit was ongoing.

The car chase ended after the Honda Civic's occupants allegedly fired at the pursuing policemen. The policemen fired back and killed three of the suspects, Bartolome said.

He said the police investigating team will also determine the operatives' possible violation of the PNP's rules of engagement.

Meanwhile, Muntinlupa Rep. Rufino Biazon said Thursday that he will file a resolution asking the House of Representatives to conduct an inquiry into the supposed shootout.