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Lacson seeks review of PNP rules of engagement

December 9, 2008 9:07am

MANILA, Philippines - Following a deadly shootout that killed five civilians in Parañaque City last weekend, an opposition senator called Tuesday for a review of the police rules of engagement against armed groups, as well as the conduct of necessary training drills on policemen.

In a radio interview, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, himself a former chief of the National Police, said the rules of engagement must consider avoiding civilians who armed robbers may harm or take hostage.

"The police will have to review their rules of engagement, and conduct practical field exercises especially for populated areas. I was not aware of the encounter, but was near the area at the time and I was wondering why traffic had built up. It was a very sad incident)," Lacson said in the vernacular in an interview on dzXL radio.

At least five civilians were killed in the shootout between police and armed robbers from the Waray-Waray and Ozamiz gangs last Friday in Parañaque City.

On the other hand, Lacson took the cudgels for the beleaguered policemen in Friday's operation, asking the public to understand their position.

He said the policemen were placed in a situation where they faced robbers known for shooting dead victims without a second thought.

"I am not defending the policemen but I am asking people
to understand their situation. I am sure the policemen at the time were thinking how to defend themselves and the civilians from the armed robbers. It is so easy to sit back and claim there are violations of the rules of engagement, but it is a very different thing if you are on the ground, face to face with armed robbers and being shot at)," Lacson said in Filipino.

Police on Tuesday said they are poised to file charges against several members of the gang who were arrested in a series of follow-up operations.

Radio dzBB's Denver Trinidad reported that the charges included murder, frustrated murder, and illegal possession of firearms.

The police also got a needed boost in their charges against the gang members as victims of their past heists expressed willingness to testify against them. - GMANews.TV