POLICE killed two people, including a badly injured woman who was being rushed to a hospital, and injured two others in Mandaluyong City after mistaking them for gunmen, authorities said on Friday.
Metro Manila Police Director Oscar Albayalde ordered the immediate removal of 11 policemen, including the chief of police, pending the results of an investigation.
“I find no excuse (for) this unfortunate event that has caused the death of two individuals and the wounding of two others,” Albayalde said in a statement.
The fatalities were identified as Jonalyn Ambaan and Jomar Hayawon while the injured were Eliseo Aluad Jr. and Danilo Santiago.
• Sr. Supt. Moises Villaceran Jr., Mandaluyong City police chief;
• Sr. Insp. Maria Christina Vasquez;
• Police Officer (PO) 1 Alfred Uribe;
• PO2 Nel Lemuel Songala;
• PO1 Jave Arellano;
• PO1 Tito Danao;
• PO1 Mark Castillo;
• PO1 Julius Libuen;
• PO1 Bryan Nicolas;
• PO1 Albert Buwag; and PO1 Kim Rufford Tibunsay.
Albayalde said he ordered the administrative axing of Villaceran because of command responsibility.
Authorities said in separate interviews that prior to the “mistaken identity” shooting, an incident occurred on Thursday night at a construction site in Barangay Addition Hills where Ambaan was shot in the head as she intervened in an argument between Aluad, her live-in partner, and a man delivering liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) at about 10 p.m. on Thursday.
Albayalde said concerned citizens reported the shooting to the village hall of Addition Hills, which prompted watchmen to respond to the crime scene.
Ambaan’s companions boarded her on a White Mitsubishi Adventure driven by Santiago to bring her to the hospital but were going the wrong way when responding village watchmen, thinking that it was the gunman’s getaway vehicle, fired shots, Albayalde said.Citing closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage, Albayalde said it was the driver of the vehicle, with the watchmen on board, who fired the first shots.
The driver, according to the police official, was identified as Gilbert Gulpo, also a village watchman, who remained at large after the shooting.
“We went to his house and he was not there. But he will still be invited here at the Mandaluyong City Police Station for our investigation,” Albayalde said.
Responding policemen from Mandaluyong’s Precinct 1 continued to fire shots at the AUV based on information from the village watchmen that the gunman was inside the vehicle.
The village watchmen claimed they traded gunshots with the AUV occupants at the corner of Shaw Boulevard and Old Wack-Wack Road.
The volley of fire killed Hayawon instantly and injured Aluad and Santiago, three of seven passengers who were accompanying Ambaan to the hospital, according to authorities.
Albayalde said 36 shells from fired rounds had been recovered and that all the guns of the police and watchmen would be checked to see who had fired on the van.
“They said that practically all of them fired their guns. It was only some guys who arrived last who did not fire their guns,” Albayalde said, referring to some of the responding policemen.
Albayalde said everyone involved in the shooting would undergo paraffin testing and all firearms recovered from the policemen at the crime scene would undergo ballistic examination at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory.
Alfegar Triambulo, the PNP Internal Affairs Service (IAS) chief, said policemen involved would also be under restrictive custody.
“The investigation is ongoing and with them under restrictive custody, we will be able to fast-track the probe. Restrictive custody is not a penalty at all. This is just to facilitate the investigation and to dispose [of]it immediately so that their presence will be there,” Triambulo told reporters in a separate interview.
Aside from the policemen, some of the village watchmen involved in the shooting were also placed under restrictive custody.
He urged the public to wait for the results of the paraffin testing, autopsy and ballistic examinations.
“If this will be determined as a case of homicide, then they might face dismissal and at the same time, they will also be subjected to dismissal if [it would be found out that]there were lapses in the conduct of the operations,” Triambulo said.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque Jr. released a statement saying “(the) matter will be investigated fully even if there appears to be excessive force utilized by police authorities.”
He also stressed that the policemen involved have been disarmed and their movements restricted while the case was being investigated.
Both the Justice department and the Commission on Human Rights said they would investigate the shooting as well.
DEMPSEY REYES WITH NEIL ALCOBER, FRANCIS EARL A. CUETO, AFP