MANILA, Philippines -- The bullet slug that allegedly hit Supt. Hansel Marantan, the lone police officer injured during the encounter in Atimonan, Quezon last January 6, is now with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
The St. Luke's Medical Center-Global City, where Marantan had been confined since the incident, turned over the slug to the NBI on Thursday.
The NBI is the lead agency handling the investigation on the bloody encounter between joint police and military forces and alleged members of the Vic Siman gun-for-hire group that left 13 men dead.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Thursday she is certain that no shootout occurred in Atimonan, Quezon last January 6.
"Definitely, no shootout," she said.
De Lima said three witnesses, whose identities are being withheld, have come forward to shed light on the shooting.
"Well, ang masasabi namin, credible ang aming witnesses and they are really eye witnesses. Wala kaming rason na pagdudahan ang kredibilidad ng mga witnesses na iyon," she said in a radio dzMM interview.
Accompanied by the witnesses, investigators from the NBI visited Barangay Lumutan Thursday morning, the site of the alleged shootout, to re-enact the January 6 gun battle.
The legitimacy of the police operation has come under question amid allegations that the supposed gun battle was not a shootout.
Siman was an alleged jueteng operator engaged in a turf rivalry with Marantan.
The alleged involvement of Marantan and Siman in jueteng operations in the region triggered speculations that the shooting incident was actually a rubout.
The Calabarzon Police, meantime, has started turning over to the NBI the pieces of evidence they gathered from the clash site. -- Report from dzMM; With a report from Dharel Placido, ABS-CBNnews.com