Checkpoint police in Atimonan massacre not in uniform — PNP chief
Quezon provincial police head Senior Superintendent Valeriano de Leon has been relieved because of the bloody incident, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas announced at the same press conference in Camp Crame.
“Sa operation na iyon, the police operational procedures were not followed,” Purisima said.
"Dapat meron pong police vehicle with visible marking. The personnel at the checkpoint should be in uniform, hindi ‘yung naka-civilian,” he added, citing results of an initial investigation.
Marantan, in an interview with Sandra Aguinaldo on Wednesday, admitted that he was out of uniform, but he said it was justified since he was an intelligence officer.
Marantan was at the second checkpoint, the report said. “I myself, I had rehearsed with the checkpoint. Nagdrive ako ng sasakyan ko, tiningnan ko kung kitang-kita 'yung checkpoint,” he said in the interview.
He said the vehicles ignored the checkpoints, and were blocked by the soldiers' vehicles.
"Ako na ho 'yung nag-command na i-roll down yung windows. Ibaba ho 'yung bintana, mga pulis kami, this is a checkpoint,” Marantan said. He said that they complied, but rolled the windows back up.
“At that time, I sensed danger already. So I, hindi lang ako, yun palang kasama ko naka sense na rin ng danger. Nagkawalaan na kami doon. I stepped back maybe three or four, and then 'yung putok dumating na. Hindi ko akalain na may mga pulis doon sa sasakyan,” Marantan said.
Marantan, who was wounded in the encounter, was interviewed at a hospital where he is recuperating. Marantan said his wounds were not self-inflicted, contrary to some reports.
“Nadedemoralize ako pero, it's part of the job... but nababasa ko naman lahat, yung mga newspaper na yan. and naririnig ko yung ibang mga comments of some anchors, trying to insinuate upon me that it was a self-inflicted injury. Hindi ho ito self-inflicted injury,” he said.
Marantan said they welcomed the investigation. “That's the right of every individual naman, especially the family of the victims. Kailangan nila ng investigation,” he said.
Provincial police had earlier reported that the victims were members of a gun-for-hire group, but relatives of the slain men have denied the allegation. One of the casualties was environmentalist Jun Lontok, while at least two others were policemen on active duty.
The men were killed after their convoy supposedly ignored the police checkpoint along a highway in Atimonan town, prompting those manning the checkpoint to fire at them.
The PNP chief's admission contradicts earlier statements by the Quezon police and even presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte that the massacre occurred at a "legitimate checkpoint," where policemen were clearly in uniform.
Roxas said 15 PNP intelligence operatives at the checkpoint were in civilian clothes, while the rest were soldiers from the Philippine Army in their fatigue uniforms.
He said signages, manned by uniformed policemen, were set up 500 meters before and after the checkpoint asking vehicles to slow down for police inspection.
In addition to the sacked Quezon provincial director, Roxas said the other policemen involved in the supposed shootout are “deemed in restrictive custody.”
“Doon lang sila sa quarters nila. Hindi sila pwedeng lumabas sa Camp Vicente Lim sa Region IV,” Roxas said.