MANILA - A political ally of slain Calbayog City Mayor Ronald Aquino denounced Wednesday police claims that law enforcers did not know that they were shooting the mayor's van.
Samar 1st District Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento refuted a police report saying the mayor's group was the first to fire at antinarcotics officers that were tailing their vehicle. He said the police were already waiting for Aquino's vehicle at Laboyao Bridge in Barangay Lonoy, Calbayog City before the shooting incident at 5:30 p.m.
Videos of the shooting, he said, showed the police went to the vehicle and shot the mayor when he was already dead.
"Ang pinakamagandang ebidensya 'yung videos naglalabasan. Sabihin na natin naunang pumutok si mayor. Natatawa po ako. Tingnan niyo na lang. Patay na ang mayor, may lumapit pa. Binaril pa mismo. Binalikan," he said in a separate TeleRadyo interview.
"Kung walang intensyon, kung sabihin natin misfire ito, hindi nila alam si mayor ito, ang una nilang gagawin, ng pulis, ico-cordon po, tutulungan nila si mayor, dadalhin sa ospital."
Monday's supposed encounter in Barangay Lonoy, Calbayog City left 6 people dead including Aquino, his close-in security detail and driver. Two police officers were also killed in the incident.
A Philippine National Police Public Information Office statement earlier said "the group of Mayor Aquino was alleged to have initiated the shootout when his close-in security fired at the unmarked vehicle of the IMEG-PDEU group that was traveling in the same direction along the road."
The PNP said its personnel involved in the shooting are from the Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group, and Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit, who were conducting Red Teaming inspection in the area.
"The IMEG-PDEU group denies that Mayor Aquino was a subject of their operations or that he was targeted," the PNP statement said.
In the interview, Sarmiento noted the cops involved in the shooting were not assigned in Calbayog but came from outside the city.
"Itong mga pulis na napaslang, naka-assign ito sa probinsya. Hindi sa siyudad ng Calbayog, liwanagin po natin. Hindi alam ng chief of police ng Calbayog na may operation pala itong taga-probinsya. Talagang handang-handa. Ang intensyon talaga ay patayin ang isang ama," he said.
He earlier said the police were wearing balaclavas and had high-powered firearms.
Lt. Col. Maria Bella Rentuaya, information officer of the Police Regional Office in Eastern Visayas, said police officers involved in the shooting only fired back after the mayor's body guards allegedly fired first at their vehicle.
"Yung nag-initiate nung unang putok ay sa sasakyan ni mayor," she said.
She said investigation is still ongoing on why the antinarcotics officers were wearing balaclavas and had M-203s in their vehicle.
In the interview, Sarmiento said the involvement of police in the killing means he cannot rely on impartiality from the PNP.
"I cannot believe and I cannot see impartiality in a report coming from the Philippine National Police...Ang pakiusap ko mahalin niyo ang uniporme niyo. Wag kayong magpagamit sa mga politiko," he said, adding that the incident tarnishes the image of the PNP.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into the incident.