National Capital Region Police chief Oscar Albayalde on Friday vowed that there would be no cover-up in the investigation of the botched police operation in Mandaluyong City that left two people dead and two others wounded.
"Walang magiging whitewash dito. No less than the chief PNP, no less than the President, talagang wala naman siyang tolerance sa erring policemen or sa mga abusadong police natin," he said in an interview with Bandila DZMM.
"We assure the public this will be investigated deeply. Mapaparusahan yung dapat maparusahan dito," he added.
Mandaluyong City police officers and village watchmen or barangay tanods of Barangay Addition Hills mistakenly shot unarmed civilians inside an AUV late Thursday night on suspicion it was a getaway vehicle.
The victim's vehicle was transporting a woman to the hospital after she got shot in the head while pacifying an altercation between two groups past 9 p.m.
The Deparment of Justice has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the controversial operation that raised suspicion of negligence against the police force.
The police officers were already relieved from their posts, including the Mandaluyong City police chief by virtue of command responsibility, pending an investigation.
"Merong mananagot dito, both criminally and administratively," Albayalde said.
The policemen involved in the incident were identified as Senior Insp. Maria Cristina Vasquez, PO2 Nel Songalia, PO1 Jave Arellano, PO1 Tito Danao, PO1 Bryan Nicolas, PO1 Julius Libuyen, PO1 Mark Castillo, PO1 Alberto Buag, PO1 Kim Tinbusay, and PO1 Alfred Urbe.
Based on his assessment, Albayalde said the law enforcers violated protocols on the existing rules of engagement for police.
"Kung strictly speaking, of course, meron tayong nakita doon na mga misjudgment and probably violations doon sa mga specific SOPs (standard operating procedures) na nakasaad sa PNP manual," he said.
What the police officers should have done, Albayalde said, was to exercise "sound discretion" by observing first.
They should have checked first if there was an active shooter, he said.
"With the proximity doon sa sasakyan at sa kanila, makikita mo naman kaagad kung talagang meron o walang pumuputok doon sa kabila," Albayalde said.
The next step the police officers should have taken was to clear the area and use verbal command, such as giving them chance to surrender.
Though the responding police and village watchmen were reportedly fed the wrong information on the incident, he said this shouldn't be an excuse to avoid similar incidents from happening.
Albayalde promised they will continue orienting or educating their police officers on strictly following protocols.
During the interview, the police official said village watchmen are also not allowed to carry firearms even performing official duty.
"Basically, under the law, walang batas na nagbibigay sa kanila ng karapatan to bear arms," he said.
Albayalde said this practice may have been tolerated because firearms are reportedly issued by some local government units to village watchmen.
"Kung may operation ang police, sila ang nauuna, backup lang yung mga barangay. Hindi pwedeng barangay tanod ang mauuna, backup yung ating mga kapulisan," he said.
Mandaluyong Mayor Carmelita Abalos has already asked Addition Hills village chief to explain why the village watchmen were carrying guns while on duty.