(UPDATED 1:53 p.m.) MANILA – The newly designated police chief of Mandaluyong City was administratively relieved of his post pending investigation of the Thursday night mistaken shooting by cops in a car chase that killed two civilians.
The vehicle that the policemen shot at was an AUV bearing six construction workers rushing a wounded woman to hospital, the NCRPO director, Gen. Oscar Albayalde said on Friday.
Albayalde announced the administrative relief of Senior Supt. Moises Villaceran, and 10 other police personnel, at a press briefing.
One of the two civilians dead was Jonalyn Amboan, who had been wounded in a prior shooting and was being brought to hospital.
Police are looking for barangay tanod Ernesto Fajardo and Gilberto Dulpo, who were in the Barangay Addition Hills mobile patrol. One of them was seen on CCTV firing at the white Mitsubishi Adventure bearing the mercy mission for Jonalyn as the barangay tanod were chasing the AUV.
Survivor Mhury Jamon, one of the three construction workers who survived, said that when the barangay tanod told them to stop, they did, and went out the vehicle as ordered. Still, two barangay tanod approached then shot at them, which Jamon believed caused the death of their fellow construction worker Jomar Jayaon.
Police who were alerted to the shooting incident, on seeing the barangay tanod pursuing the AUV, also gave chase, subsequently firing repeatedly at the vehicle.
Upon the arrival of the police, the barangay tanod left.
“‘Pag hindi kayo bumaba, papuputukan namin kayo (If you don’t go down from the vehicle, we will shoot you),” Jamon quoted the police as saying. By this time, he and the two other survivors were already down on the floor outside of the vehicle.
But the victims could not go out, he said, because Amboan was lying on husband and construction worker Eliseo Aluad. Jayaon had already been shot, as well.
“Sumisigaw kami na pasyente ang dala namin. Pero hindi kami pinakinggan. Pinadapa lang kami ng mga pulis (We were shouting that we were bringing an injured person with us. But they didn’t listen. The police just made us drop down),” Jamon told reporters. He said they then heard shots and shouting from inside the AUV, with one man – presumably Aluad – telling police they had to bring his wounded wife to hospital.
Asked how the shooting stopped, Jamon replied that it was probably because there was no longer any sound coming from persons in the vehicle.
Asked if there were violations of the rules of engagement on the part of the police, Albayalde replied, “Sa tingin naman natin meron siguro. Titignan natin dahil sa sobrang daming nga na lumabas na bala dito eh (We think there probably was. We will look into it because there were so many bullets used).”
They recovered 36 shells on the scene.
“We’re not discounting the fact na merong [there was an] overkill; or violation of the POP (Police Operational Procedure),” Albayalde added.
While police had said they were just following the guidance provided by the barangay tanod that the men inside the AUV were suspects, they were bound to follow the POP that says “if there is no active shooter from the other side, there is no reason to shoot,” Albayalde explained.
“We have to look into whether there was abuse of discretion,” he added.
No amount of training could shape “the common sense and the discretion of our policemen,” Albayalde said. These were the most important things for them to have on the ground.
A team from the PNP Internal Affairs Service (IAS) was at the scene to investigate the case.
PSupt. Agtara, deputy chief, was temporarily assigned in lieu of Villaceran.
After the press conference held at the Mandaluyong Police headquarters, Albayalde told the policemen, “Walang mag-a-AWOL sa inyo (Not one of you should go AWOL).”
Asked if the barangay tanod who had given the wrong information were responsible for the incident, Albayalde said they were. This was exactly what the police was looking into now, aside from why the barangay officials had guns.
The police had barangay official Wilmer Doron in their custody, as he fled the mobile patrol when the driver told him the people they were pursuing were armed and were shooting at them. Doron went straight to the barangay hall to hide, Albayalde said.
All the four men with whom the construction workers had quarreled with, and which triggered the shooting of Jonalyn, are now under police custody.
Meanwhile, the area where the incident occurred has been cordoned off, with the Scene of the Crime Operatives conducting their investigation there. (Photos by Bernard Testa, InterAksyon.)