The involvement of Supt. Hansel Marantan in four widely publicized gun battles over the past seven years, purportedly with criminal gangs, in which a total of 40 people had been killed, has puzzled Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas.
The latest of these fire fights occurred on Sunday in Atimonan, Quezon. There, 13 people, allegedly members of a crime gang, were killed—among them a senior police officer, Supt. Alfredo Consemino, and his two aides and two soldiers.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Roxas said he had asked the Philippine National Police to review the career records of Marantan, who had been promoted despite the controversies that hounded him.
“We want to know his background and history. Is he just trigger-happy? Or is he just that brave?” Roxas said. “We want to know the reason why he was involved in many cases of bloody shootouts.”
But Roxas declined to comment on reports linking the 41-year-old Marantan to crime syndicates in the Calabarzon region, particularly on the officer’s alleged involvement in the illegal numbers racket “jueteng,” which, according to sources in the PNP, triggered Sunday’s gunfight in Atimonan.
“Whether it’s jueteng, illegal drugs, illegal logging, that we cannot tell yet. We must determine the facts, provable and ascertainable facts,” he said.
President Aquino on Tuesday directed the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the Atimonan gun battle. He also ordered the PNP to coordinate its investigations with the NBI.
A graduate of Philippine National Police Academy, Class 1998, Marantan was criminally charged in connection with a purported encounter between operatives of the Highway Patrol Group which he then led as a senior inspector and the so-called Valle Verde car theft syndicate in November 2005. Killed in the gunfight were Anton Cu-Unjieng, Francis Xavier Manzano and Brian Anthony Dulay—all scions of wealthy families.
In December 2008, he again took part in a daring police operation against the dreaded Alvin Flores robbery group in Paranaque City that left 16 people dead, among them seaman Alfonso de Vera and his 7-year-old daughter Lia Allyana who were caught in the cross fire.
‘Cop with balls’
In October 2010, Marantan and his men in the 415th Provincial Police Mobile Group traded shots with alleged kidnappers at a checkpoint in Candelaria, Quezon, killing eight of them just a few steps away from his headquarters.
Some PNP officials interviewed by the Philippine Daily Inquirer described Marantan as a “policeman with balls” and “a determined police officer.” They declined to be named in deference to the investigations ordered by the President.
One of the officials, who has known Marantan since he was a cadet in the academy, said Marantan’s training in the Army’s Special Forces and Navy intelligence honed him to become a “brave police officer who is not afraid to go after criminals.”
In fact, he said Marantan’s role in successful police and military operations in the past earned him accolades and awards.
“They can say many bad things about Hansel. But no one can refute his dedication to his work as a police officer. He’s a policeman with balls,” the official said.
But another police official said Marantan had earned the ire of some senior PNP officers for his supposed links with illegal gambling personalities and other criminal syndicates in Calabarzon region.
A source close to this official claimed Marantan’s sister, Cenen “Tita” Dinglasan, is an operator of state-run Small Town Lottery (STL) bookies in Laguna.
“Tita was a rival of Vic Siman in the operations of jueteng and bookies in Calamba and some parts of Batangas,” the source said, referring to Victor Siman, one of the 13 fatalities in the Quezon clash, said to be a jueteng and STL operator.