WATCH | Crime lab: Mandaluyong fatality may have been shot at close range

January 5, 2018 - 12:11 AM
(In foreground at left) The van that got shot at.

One of the two civilians who were killed on December 28, involving cops in Mandaluyong City who had acted on erroneous information fed by barangay watchmen seemed to have been shot at close range.

According to the initial autopsy report of the Crime Laboratory of the Eastern Police District (EPD), there were indications that Jonalyn Amboan was fired upon from close quarters.

It is possible that she tested positive for gunpowder nitrates because she might have been shot at close range, said PSupt. Isidro Cariño of the EPD Crime Laboratory.

Prior to the incident, she was being brought to the hospital on board a Mitsubishi Adventure van by her companions after being wounded in a prior shooting.

“Nandito sa conclusion ng medico-legal ang cause of death ‘yung multiple gunshot wounds including sa head. Sa head niya may na-examine na tattooing, sa left cheek malapit (According to the conclusion of the medico-legal, the cause of death were multiple gunshot wounds, including on the head. On her head was observed some tattooing near the left cheek),” Cariño said.

The initial autopsy report showed that Amboan suffered multiple gunshot wounds on her head, trunk, and other extremities.

Until now, however, the police have still not identified from whose gun were fired the bullets that killed Amboan and Jomar Jayaon, one of the six construction workers who were rushing Amboan to the hospital.

This is because the guns used by the barangay tanod and the police involved in the shooting incident are still undergoing ballistic examination.

Like Amboan, Jayaon suffered multiple gunshot wounds on his head, trunk, and extremities.

Cariño assured the public that the crime lab would be impartial: “We don’t side with the police or the victim).”

The Philippine National Police also promised there would be no whitewashing of the case.

“We are doing everything … Issuing updates to prove that there is no whitewash,” said EPD District Director PSupt. Reynaldo Biay.

Meanwhile, the team leader of the Mandaluyong police team that figured in the shooting, Senior Inspector Maria Cristina Vasquez, reported to the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) on Wednesday, after being absent for a few days.

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According to her director, she was crying when she surfaced. She is now under restrictive custody at the Mandaluyong City Police Station.

Charges of homicide have been filed against her and nine other police personnel, even as an investigation is ongoing regarding an administrative case that may be filed against her.

“We are waiting for the resolution from the fiscal’s office,” said Biay.

The PNP is making sure that the respondents will not receive any special treatment.

“She (Vasquez) is under close watch,” Biay added.

Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) Shaw also explained why the Mandaluyong police team was facing seemingly light charges.

“The charge was pegged at homicide because there was no criminal intent involved in the shooting. The police officers were informed that the assailant was inside the Mitsubishi Adventure,” said PSSupt. Florendo Quibuyen. “They acted in the performance of duty. The police had no criminal intent. It will depend on the appreciation of the prosecutor.”

Nevertheless, Mandaluyong City Police officer-in-charge PSupt. Enrique Agtarap said he would “go with the observation of the higher-ups that there were lapses [on the part of the police involved] simply because of human factors.”

Immediately after the incident, the NCRPO Chief, Oscar Albayalde, had said when asked if there were violations of the rules of engagement on the part of the police: “We think there probably was. We will look into it because there were so many bullets used.”

Some 36 shells were recovered from the scene, according to Albayalde.

“We’re not discounting the fact that there was an overkill, or violation of the POP (Police Operational Procedure),” he added.

Law enforcers are bound to follow the POP that says “if there is no active shooter from the other side, there is no reason to shoot,” he explained. “We have to look into whether there was abuse of discretion.”

But the Mandaluyong City Police’s morale remains high, Agtarap said.

“They believe that they responded with appropriate swiftness. They did their job. There were lapses at the end of the story. But our police’s morale is still high … It was the human factor that dictated the firing of guns. It was already night time, there was information that there was a shooting. Their human instinct to defend themselves kicked in,” Agtarap said.

He also attributed the manner of response to the “swift unraveling of the events” and the erroneous information the police received.

Gilberto Gulpo, one of the barangay tanod who allegedly shot at the victims before the police arrived, is still being hunted by the police, Biay said.