13 men in Quezon clash met gold minerBy Delfin Mallari Jr., Juan Escandor Jr.
Inquirer Southern Luzon
JOSE PANGANIBAN, Camarines Norte—The group of Victor “Vic” Siman visited a gold miner in this town before all 13 of them were killed in an alleged shootout with government security forces in Atimonan, Quezon province, on Sunday afternoon.
Vic Villamar, driver of gold miner Ronnie Habitan, said Siman’s group was in his boss’ house in Barangay (village) Plaridel here on Jan. 6.
Habitan’s name cropped up after the daughter of one of those killed, Police Supt. Alfredo Perez Consemino, disclosed that her father’s group, led by Siman, met Habitan earlier on Sunday.
“They arrived at about 6 a.m. and talked with my boss in the room. They were laughing,” Villamar told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
The driver said the group stayed until about 11 a.m. then left after having lunch with Habitan.
A police source, who asked not be named because the information was given to him in confidence, said Habitan told him that Siman and Consemino’s group visited him.
Habitan was not available for comment on Thursday.
The police source said Habitan also told him that Consemino offered to sell the security agency owned by Siman but they did not close the deal.
He said Habitan denied he gave money to Siman’s group.
Habitan is known here as a “high-grade” miner, meaning he had hit pay dirt in small-scale mining, according to Chief Insp. Sam Belmonte, the town’s acting police chief.
High-grade miners are now rich, Belmonte said.
The two-story house of Habitan here has a guard and security camera. A black BMW is in the garage.
A source from the underground gambling business in Calabarzon said Siman invested in gold mining in Camarines Norte after he started running an illegal numbers game in the province.
“[Siman] started [his illegal gambling operation in Camarines Norte] sometime last year,” the source said.
The informant said Siman replaced the “jueteng” operation in the area, which was formerly run by an associate of Charlie “Atong” Ang, a former associate of former President Joseph Estrada.
The informant alleged that Siman also owns a gold mining operation in Paracale, Camarines Norte.
“That’s why he brought along Supt. Alfredo Consemino on that fateful trip because the police official was his security consultant in his mining operation,” the source said.
Siman reportedly owned a security agency in Tagkawayan town, Quezon, but Chief Insp. William Angway, the town’s police chief, said there was no security agency in his locality.