PNP chief Debold Sinas and Eastern Visayas Police Director Brig. Gen. Ronaldo de Jesus yesterday dismissed allegations that Calbayog City Mayor Ronaldo Aquino and two of his security escorts were ambushed by anti-drug cops last Monday.
“No, it’s not ambush,” Sinas stressed during a press briefing at Camp Crame, sticking to a police report that it was the escorts of Aquino who opened fire at cops from the Provincial Drug Enforcement Unit and Integrity Monitoring and Enforcement Group who were in two vehicles tailing the mayor’s car.
Citing a report from the Eastern Visayas Police, Sinas said the security men of Aquino became suspicious of the vehicles tailing them and opened fire.
“According to them, without apparent reason, their (DEU and IMEG) vehicles were fired upon. So they were forced to respond (fire back). That’s the initial report given to us by the regional director,” said Sinas.
The firefight resulted in the death of Aquino, his driver, Dennis Abayon, and his security detail, S/Sgt. Rodio Sario.
The cops killed were identified as Capt. Joselito Tabada, chief of the PDEU-Samar and concurrent chief of Gandara town police station in Samar; and PDEU member S/Sgt. Cabococ Laoyon. Wounded were S/Sgt. Neil Matarum Cebu, also of PDEU, and an employee working for Aquino, Mansfield Labonete.
Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento has debunked the police report, saying that based on the account of witnesses, the mayor was ambushed by cops. He added the cops wore bonnets and were armed with M-203 grenade launchers.
Sinas said the PDEU and IMEG cops were about to conduct an inspection on the preparedness of police units in the area when the incident occurred.
Sinas said he has also asked the PNP Internal Affairs Service to conduct a parallel probe to “find out what really happened.”
Justice Secretary has ordered the NBI to probe the killings.
Sinas assured the public there will be no whitewash in the police investigation.
In a phone interview, De Jesus said: “There is no ambush… Those (claims of ambush) are allegations, it remains an allegation. There is no ambush there.”
“How can it be (an) ambush when we lost two policemen?” De Jesus said.