Investigations are underway after two innocent people were apparently shot dead by bungling cops in Mandaluyong City.
Officers open fired on a vehicle yesterday evening, believing it to contain a gunman who had earlier shot a woman.
However, it in fact contained the victim, Jocelyn Ambaon, her partner Eliseo Aluad, a friend and some Good Samaritans who were attempting to get the injured woman to hospital.
Police say the misunderstanding arose after a barangay tanod — or neighbourhood watchman — pointed out the wrong vehicle to officers. The tanod, identified as Gilberto Gulpo, had earlier been pursuing the vehicle himself, while firing shots. He remains at large.
Ambaon died at hospital while her companion, Jomar Hayawun, was killed at the scene on Shaw Boulevard. Two others were hurt, including Ambaon’s live-in partner and the vehicle’s driver. They both remain in critical condition.
To add to the confusion over what occurred, one of the survivors, Mhury Jamon, said it was Gulpo and another tanod who had fired the fatal shots.
“The two community watchmen approached our vehicle while continuously firing at us,” he said.
“When the police came, the barangay tanods disappeared. The police then fired at us.”
He also described how the police ordered them to step out of the vehicle, but they couldn’t due to their injuries.
“We were yelling that we are with a patient but they did not listen.”
Jamon and two others eventually got out of the vehicle leaving Ambaon, Aluad and two others trapped inside.
“The police asked all of us to alight the vehicle. They fired at us because they thought the others were hiding something inside. The police, when they see the subjects not following orders, said they will open fire. But they did not know the subjects really could not get out.”
National Capital Region Police chief Director Oscar Albayalde confirmed that no firearms were recovered from the vehicle.
However, he added: “We cannot blame our police officers for thinking that there was someone armed inside the vehicle. There was a shooting incident and the barangay told them there was an armed person in the vehicle.”
Nonetheless, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II today (Friday, December 29) ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the police response.
Aguirre also ordered the NBI to gather evidence and file appropriate charges those responsible for the incident.
Ten policers officers involved in the botched operation, along with the Mandaluyong City chief, have already been relieved of duties.