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DOJ witnesses re-enacts Atimonan incident

MANILA, Philippines - Witnesses of the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday will try to re-enact the events during the alleged shootout at a checkpoint area in Atimonan, Quezon last January 6, where 13 people were killed, including suspected jueteng kingpin Vic Siman.

The witnesses, accompanied by DOJ officials led by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, arrived at the site of the supposed encounter in Atimonan town this morning.

De Lima said the statements of the DOJ witnesses were "highly explosive" regarding the incident, which policemen and soldiers claimed to be a shootout with gunmen inside two vehicles they stopped at the checkpoint.

The secretary said that the witnesses were "very scared," but were willing to cooperate and describe how the shooting occurred.

De Lima, meanwhile, said that soldiers involved in the operation could be tapped as witnesses because they are the "least guilty" as they were only following orders from their superiors.

There are at least 25 soldiers involved in the

Southern Luzon command spokesperson Col. Generoso Bolina had said that the soldiers were ordered "restricted to barracks" a day after the Atimonan incident.

Several police officials, including Calabarzon regional police director James Melad and police team leader Superintendent Hansel Marantan, have been sacked pending the investigations on the incident.

An initial report by the Philippine National Police's fact-finding body, which was submitted to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), showed that the 13 victims apparently did not fire their firearms during the supposed shootout.

The other agencies conducting investigation on the incident were the National Police Commission and the Commission on Human Rights.