Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas on Tuesday warned Supt. Hansel Marantan and other police officials to cooperate with the government investigation on the Jan. 6 incident in Atimonan, Quezon, in which 13 people were killed.
Roxas gave his “advice” to Marantan at a press conference in Camp Crame where he and Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima turned over to National Bureau of Investigation Director Nonnatus Rojas the police fact-finding report on the killings.
The PNP turned over a two-inch thick report to NBI Director Rojas, whose agency was tasked by President Aquino to look into the Jan. 6 incident to ensure an impartial investigation as dozens of policemen and military personnel were involved.
Exhaustive PNP report
“This report is clear, declarative, and exhaustive and the entire force of the PNP fact-finding team was utilized (here). There is one important component that was not included, not because of the shortcomings of the PNP but because of circumstances beyond our control which, is Superintendent Marantan,” Roxas said.
He said that Marantan, who had been involved in three previous sensational gun battles that had left 27 people dead, had refused to undergo an investigation when the PNP team went to the hospital where he was being treated for wounds purportedly sustained in Atimonan.
“He did not agree to answer their questions. He did not allow them to inspect his wounds, even the slugs recovered from his body, he did not allow to be released (by the hospital) that’s why I am advising Superintendent Marantan to undergo the process,” Roxas said.
“It would not be good for your situation now not to take part in a transparent process to find out the whole truth,” Roxas said in Filipino.
He added that Marantan’s situation was “in the murky middle of legal processes.”
“If he is a suspect, he also has rights that need to be respected,” Roxas said.
The incident was initially reported as a shoot-out between an alleged group of gun-for-hire criminals and government security forces along the Maharlika Highway in Atimonan that left all of the suspects dead. The only casualty on the government side was Marantan.
It later turned out that among the fatalities were alleged illegal gambling operator Vic Siman, a police senior superintendent, his two aides, two Air Force men, a real estate agent, an environmentalist, bodyguards and drivers.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer also reported that the incident was triggered by a “jueteng” (illegal numbers racket) turf war allegedly involving Siman and Marantan.
The Inquirer also learned that Marantan had been receiving death threats allegedly from Siman’s group after men allegedly under Siman’s employ were killed in a shoot-out with policemen in Calamba City in November last year. Siman supposedly believed that Marantan was behind the attack on his men.
On Monday, another former employee of Siman, Fernando “Pandoy” Marcelo, was killed in what police claimed was a result of the victim firing at them while resisting arrest.
Asked if this made the whole Atimonan incident complicated, NBI’s Rojas answered:
“In a way, yes. From the start there were so many speculations that have come out. Just the same, the NBI will be concentrating more on the incident proper and the other aspects, we will look into it. What we want to really find out in the investigation is the root of the (Atimonan) incident, who are responsible, the motive and the charges that would be filed, if necessary.”
Rojas also said the NBI investigation would also determine whether or not the incident was triggered by a jueteng turf war.
He added it was “premature” for other NBI officials to say that the Atimonan incident was an “overkill.”
“I would rather that the final conclusion so far as the shooting is concerned, whether it was a shootout or a rubout, should be declared after a thorough investigation and study by the NBI,” he said.
Probe on media leak
Roxas and Purisima would not reveal the findings and recommendations of the PNP. Roxas said he did not want to preempt the NBI’s investigation.
Nonetheless, Roxas said the contents of the reports could not be too far from the results that had been leaked to the media.
Roxas said he had directed the PNP to investigate the media leak, saying this “is not right because the findings were not yet final and it would generate so much speculations.”
“It could be that these leaks served to skew the investigation toward one area versus another, and this is not right,” Roxas said.
He said he would leave it up to the PNP to determine if news organizations who reported on the fact-finding results would be included in the investigation.
Roxas also said he would leave it to the NBI to decide whether it would publicly disclose the PNP fact-finding results.
He dismissed suggestions that PNP personnel involved in the incident were uncooperative, except for Marantan. He said that today at 10 a.m., the policemen involved in the Atimonan incident would be giving their statements to the NBI.
“They will fully cooperate with the NBI investigation,” Roxas said.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she thought the NBI agents had scored a breakthrough in their investigation.
“We know more or less what happened. It may not be the real picture yet, but the NBI has enough information and enough evidence to come up with a conclusion,” De Lima said in an interview at the NBI headquarters Tuesday.
De Lima declined to comment on the Inquirer report of the initial findings of the NBI that what happened during the Jan. 6 incident constituted “unjustified killings.”
“Since it’s initial and partial it’s not wise for me to be disclosing it,” De Lima said. She added that the NBI would assess and compare its own investigation from that of the PNP’s. She said the NBI report would not be ready until Friday because of the delay in the turnover of PNP evidence.
50 cops, soldiers at NBI Wednesday
De Lima also said Roxas and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin had given her the assurance that more than 50 police and military personnel summoned by the NBI would appear at the agency Wednesday.
“I was assured those men will appear and cooperate,” De Lima said.
Danielito Lalucis, the executive officer of the NBI Death Investigation Division, said among those to be summoned today were Chief Supt. James Melad, Region 4 director; Brig. Gen. Alla R. Luga of the Southern Luzon Command; Supt. Erwin Erni, deputy regional director; Supt. Hansel Marantan, Region 4 chief of intelligence; Chief of Intelligence and Senior Supt. Glen Dumlao, head of the Regional Public Safety Battalion, of the Calabarzon police; Col. Monico Abang of the First Special Force Batallion; Capt. Erin Macalinao, 3rd Special Forces Batallion; Supt. Manuel Abu; Senior Supt. John Paul Carraceado; and SPO1 Arturo Sarmiento.
Cooperate or else…
Also asked to appear on Wednesday were members of the Army’s Special Forces and policemen who manned the checkpoint in Atimonan.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte warned that those who would not cooperate with the NBI would be promptly relieved.
“Refusal to cooperate will not be tolerated. Secretary Mar Roxas will be ready to relieve them,” said Valte, when asked about the reported refusal of some police officials to submit to the NBI inquiry. With reports from Nancy C. Carvajal and Michael Lim Ubac