MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation will conduct an independent probe into the killing of Calbayog City Mayor Ronald Aquino allegedly done by the police.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday issued Department Order 57, directing the NBI Officer-in-Charge Eric Distor to investigate the shooting incident in Calbayog, Samar where Mayor Aquino and three of his bodyguards were killed.
Lawmaker contests ‘shootout’ tag in ambush-slay of Calbayog City mayor
Distor is ordered to file appropriate complaints against persons involved if evidence warrants.
The NBI chief is also given ten days from receipt of order to submit a progress report to Guevarra’s office. Reports would also be submitted periodically after, the order read.
In a message to reporters, Guevarra said he will refer the case to the NBI “for the simple reason that the other party involved is PNP.”
“That is the information we gathered, that police officers are involved in the encounter. So there will be different version, so to be ensure an objective and impartial investigation, I will direct the NBI today to investigate the incident,” Guevarra added in a mix of English and Filipino.
The ambush happened on Monday evening as Aquino, who is on his third and final term as city mayor, was on his way to attend the birthday party of his son.
Initial police reports said that the group of Aquino was onboard a van when shooters onboard two different vehicles fired on the victims.
But Rep. Edgar Sarmiento (Samar, 1st District) said in an interview with TeleRadyo that uniformed police officer shot at Aquino and his bodyguards. “They had bonnets and M203 grenade launchers. It was planned well,” Sarmiento said in mixed Filipino and English.
The lawmaker also disputed Police Gen. Debold Sinas’ report that Aquino and his aides fired back. Sarmiento added that he spoke with Sinas to forward photos of the crime scene and other information. He also raised the possibility the police would link the late mayor to illegal drugs, a prospect he staunchly denied.
The NBI in 2020 also conducted a probe into Jolo cops’ shooting of four intelligence soldiers after two vastly different accounts were given by the parties, with the police initially labelling it as a “misencounter.”
The bureau is also the sole agency investigating the deadly shootout between PNP and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency members in Quezon City in February which left at least four people dead.
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