Warrants out for 12 cops in Atimonan slays
Arrest warrants for multiple murder were issued Friday against 12 police officers, led by Supt. Hansel Marantan, who were implicated in the killing of 13 persons, including an alleged gambling lord, in Atimonan, Quezon, last January.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima relayed the information to the media about the arrest warrants against the accused issued by Judge Maria Chona Pulgar-Navarro of Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 61 in Gumaca, Quezon.
Aside from Marantan, others ordered arrested were Supt. Ramon Balauag, Chief Insp. Grant Collod, Senior Insp. John Palo Carracedo, SPO3 Joselito de Guzman, SPO1 Carlo Cataquiz, SPO1 Arturo Sarmiento, PO3 Eduard Oronan, PO2 Nelson Indal, PO2 Al Bhazar Jailani, PO1 Wryan Sardea and PO1 Rodel Talento aka Rodel Tolentino.
No bail was recommended for the accused.
Marantan led the combined police-military team that figured in the shooting incident last Jan. 6 along the Maharlika Highway in Atimonan where suspected gambling lord Vic Siman and 12 others were killed in what police claimed was a shootout.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), however, said it was a rubout as a result of rivalry in “jueteng”—a numbers racket—between the group of Siman and a certain “Ka” Tita. Marantan was allegedly protecting Ka Tita.
The 12 police officers are already under the custody of the Philippine National Police (PNP) which placed them under floating status while the massacre was being investigated by the Department of Justice prosecutors.
A PNP spokesperson said the PNP would turn over the policemen once they receive a copy of the arrest warrants.
“Depending on the order of the court, then we will bring them wherever the court says. If it’s Quezon then (so be it),” Senior Supt. Wilben Mayor told reporters in Camp Crame Friday.
He, however, said that three of those charged with multiple counts of murder have gone missing from the PNP headquarters transient barracks where they were ordered to stay during the investigation.
Indal and Jailani were reported missing in the first week of September. Balauag, their superior, was also reported missing since July 8.
“The rest, they are there,” Mayor said in a news briefing after news broke that the court had issued the arrest warrants for the policemen.
Mayor admitted that security had not been tight before for the implicated policemen, pointing out that they were not under detention but “restrictive custody.”
“We cannot detain them because there is no legal authority to detain them,” he insisted.
Mayor said the three missing policemen who have been declared absent-without-leave (AWOL) risk being discharged from the service and their retirement benefits forfeited.
In Lucena City, the family of Tirso Lontok Jr., one of the 13 victims, welcomed the filing of multiple murder charges against the policemen involved in the killing.
“We’ve long been waiting for this. This is God’s answer to our prayers for justice for my brother and his companions,” Belle Lontok-Evangelista, younger sister of Lontok, told the Inquirer over the phone.
She said their family would not mind the exclusion of Army soldiers in the murder charges.
“What is important for us is the punishment of Marantan because he was one who planned the killing,” Evangelista said.
Also excluded was another coaccused, Senior Insp. Timoteo Orig.
Lawyer Hazel Abagat, Gumaca RTC Branch 61 clerk of court, explained that Orig managed to file a motion for “judicial determination of probable cause” before the filing of the case.
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