Alcala says Lontok family wants justice
MANILA, Philippines - One of the men slain by police and soldiers in an alleged shootout Sunday in Quezon province was an environmentalist and not a gun-for-hire assassin, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said Tuesday.
Alcala, in an interview with dzMM, also confirmed that Tirso "Jun" Lontok is his relative.
"Kamag-anak ko po ito sa father's side ko po. Iyan po kasing si Jun Lontok, sila po ang nag-encourage sa akin nung hindi pa ako nasali sa pulitika para po makasama sa pagbabantay ng bundok Banahaw," he said.
Alcala added that Lontok helped villagers who got lands in Quezon. "Isang malaking ginampanan niyan ay iyon pong mga nabigyan ng lupa sa amin sa 2nd District ay sila po ang tumulong para i-capacitate."
Quezon shootout alleged gun-for-hire suspect Tirso Lontoc
He added that Lontok, whom police accused of being a member of the alleged Vic Siman gun-for-hire crime syndicate, helped him when he decided to join politics.
"Siya po ay naging administrador ng bayan ng Sariaya, Quezon. Tatlong taon po siyang administrador sa panahon po ni ex-Mayor Doromal," Alcala said.
Lontok's kin earlier said the slain man was a Liberal Party (LP) political officer and community organizer whom Siman sought help to talk to a community that will be affected by a small-scale mining project in Bicol.
Lontok worked with Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, now Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Ging Deles, and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Director Asis Perez.
Alcala said he was stunned and was in a state of disbelief when he received reports that Lontok was among the 13 men slain Sunday in the alleged shootout.
"Sobra po ang gulat ko at nasabi kong sa huling sandali ay panalangin ko na sana'y nagkamali lamang sila ng pagbabalita sa akin," he said.
Alcala reiterated that Lontok was not a crime gang member, contrary to police allegations.
"Ay hindi po. Sa katunayan po ay tahimik pong tao iyan. Sa katunayan, may maliit pong hanapbuhay sa Dolores at may sinasaka po sila sa Bangkong Kahoy sa may parte po ng Dolores, Quezon," he said.
"Wala po akong alam kung siya'y sangkot sa jueteng," he added. "Ako nga po ay nagtataka kung bakit siya'y kasa-kasama doon. Wala pong ibang kasamang tiga-Quezon doon kung hindi siya lang, eh."
"Hindi po natin kayang siguraduhin ito (on Lontok's alleged jueteng links)," Alcala said.
On allegations Lontoc had contacts with communist rebels whom Siman allegedly wanted to talk to, the agriculture chief said Lontok was a former activist who went mainstream.
"Pero alam niyo po, kahit sa amin sa lalawigan mismo, ay tahimik na po doon sa aming lugar. Talaga pong nabago ang buhay. Hindi ko iniisip na iyung koneksiyon ay gaganun pa," he said.
Cry for justice
Alcala said Lontok's family is crying for justice.
"Kanina nga po ay pinuntahan ko iyung pamilya at sumisigaw po sila ng hustisya," he said.
"May mga tama po (bullet wounds), sobrang dami ng tama katawan po ng tao," he revealed.
He said Lontok has three children, one of whom is set to graduate from college in March. "May asawa po. Tatlo po iyung anak."
The family plans to file a case against the police officers and soldiers involved in the incident.
They also want the National Bureau of Investigation -- and not the Philippine National Police -- to handle the case.
"Kanina po ay ang kanilang agam-agam ay balewala iyung kaso," Alcala said.