NPA owns killing of miner linked to Atimonan massacre
THE New People’s Army has owned up to the killing, last Monday, of a gold miner who was previously identified by a police official as the tipster who provided police with information that prompted operations ending in the massacre of 13 persons at a police-military checkpoint in Atimonan Quezon in January 2013.
The NPA, in a statement Tuesday, said it meted the “death penalty” on Ronnie Habitan, 37, for his involvement in murder, attempted murder, drug trafficking and the depriving of small scale miners of their livelihood in Jose Panganiban town in Camarines Norte. The NPA statement was posted by the communist rebels in their blogspot Armando Catapia Command, that operates in Camarines Norte (http://npacn.blogspot.com/2015/05/untouchable-sa-bayan-ng-jose-panganiban.html).
A police report said some 10 assailants wielding long firearms and clad in Army uniforms had forcibly entered Habitan’s house in Barangay Plaridel, Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte, around 9:10 a.m. Monday and shot him in the head.
Four responding policemen led by the municipal police chief were intercepted by the gunmen on their way to the house before Habitan was shot, added the police report.
Carlito Cada, the NPA Command’s public information officer, said the rebels confiscated four guns: two .45 caliber guns from Habitan’s house and another two — a Glock pistol and another .45-cal. gun — from the responding policemen.
Cada said Habitan was “untouchable” because of his alleged influence over the military and police in his illegal activities that included use of armed goons to sow terror among his competitors in the gold mining operation.
He added Habitan controlled the illegal drug trade in the towns of Jose Panganiban, Labo and Paracale and that he forced his workers in the mine site to take prohibited drugs to overcome their fear while going down the dangerous tunnels.
Senior Supt. Harris Fama, Camarines Norte police chief, said he would look into the allegations of the NPA rebels that certain police
personnel were protecting Habitan.
But Fama said the accusation against the police “does not justify Habitan’s killing…”
After the massacre in Atimonan, Quezon, on Jan. 6, 2013, Habitan, in an interview, said the purpose of the visit to Jose Panganiban of Vic Siman, an alleged jueteng lord, hours before Siman was killed, was to seek his approval in organizational changes in the security agency he owned.
Supt. Hansel Marantan, police team leader who put up checkpoints in Atimonan, had named Habitan as the person who tipped him off about
Siman’s visit, hours before the carnage.
But Habitan denied he talked to Marantan and instead had accused Marantan of extorting P1 million from him when they were flagged down by his men two years before the massacre happened.
The 13 people killed in Atimonan were allegedly connected to illegal gambling.
The Philippine National Police, in a decision in March 2014, ordered Marantan and other police officers, dismissed from the service in connection with the Atimonan incident. They were found guilty of serious irregularity in the performance of duty. SFM
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.