MANILA (Mabuhay) — Thirteen policemen, including Superintendent Hansel Marantan, have been ordered dismissed from service in connection with the alleged Atimonan rubout in January last year.
All the respondents were found guilty of serious irregularity in the performance of duty, according to a March 5 decision signed by Philippine National Police chief Director General Alan Purisima.
Twelve people, including environmentalist Jun Lontok, were killed in what the respondents claimed was a legitimate operation against criminal elements but was later ruled by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as a rubout.
Aside from Marantan, who was deputy chief of the Quezon Province regional intelligence division at the time of the incident, the others who were ordered dismissed were:
Supt. Ramon Balauag, chief of the provincial intelligence branch,
Chief Insp. Grant Gollod, chief of police, Atimonan municipal station
Senior Insp. John Paulo Carracedo,
Senior Insp. Timoteo Orig
SPO3 Joselito De Guzman
SPO1 Claro Cataquiz, Jr.
SPO1 Arturo Sarmiento
PO3 Eduardo Oronan
PO2 Nelson Indal
PO2 Al Bhazar Jailani
PO1 Wryan Sardea
PO1 Rodel Talento
The 13 manned the second checkpoint where the supposed rubout occurred.
The PNP also ordered the demotion by one rank of others involved in the incident, namely Insp. Ferdinand Aguilar, Insp. Evaristo San Juan (Ret), PO3 Benedict Dimayuga, PO2 Ronnie Serdeña and PO2 Esperdion Corpuz. Two policemen, meanwhile, were ordered suspended for six months, namely PO1 Allen Ayobo and PO1 Bernie de Leon. All of them manned the first and third checkpoints.
Aside from Lontok, killed in the January 6, 2013 incident were Victor Siman, two police officers, and nine others. All were part of a two-vehicle convoy.
The PNP decision stated that two black Montero sport-utility vehicles used by the victims sustained 219 entry bullet holes. Nine of the passengers were found dead inside the vehicle while two others were found dead along the drainage. Two others were rushed to a hospital but were declared dead on arrival.
The decision stated the police officers involved were not in uniform and there was no PNP-marked vehicle when the incident happened.
It also stated that PNP personnel, as well as other persons in civilian attire displaying high-powered firearms and actively participating in the checkpoint, “have in the first place no business to be at the checkpoint, much more participate in its conduct, basically because of their appearance.”
It further said that the absence of a marked PNP vehicle is a violation of the PNP rule on setting up checkpoints.
“It must be emphasized that in the conduct of the checkpoint, one of the indispensable requirements with regard to equipment for obvious reasons is a marked police patrol vehicle. Certainly, the use of the military truck instead of a police mobile vehicle did not cure the defect,” the decision stated.
Aside from the administrative case, police officers involved in the incident are facing multiple murder charges before the Gumaca Regional Trial Court. A soldier and another police officer were also charged with obstruction of justice.
The Mitsubishi Monteros carrying the victims were fired at more than 200 times, according to the NBI in its report. The entrance bullet holes reportedly showed “no indication that any of the passengers of the two vehicles fired shots directed towards the outside.”
The NBI, which investigated the incident, said a turf war between Siman and a certain “Ka Tita” was the most likely motive behind the shooting.
Ka Tita was allegedly closely associated with Marantan, who was described in the report as Ka Tita’s protector.
“Simply put, Vic Siman was also after the head of Supt. Marantan while the latter was also using his authority as a decorated law enforcer to silence the former. From all indications, they were eventually to cross paths with tragic consequences,” the NBI said.
“The Atimonan encounter was a well-calculated plan to close the book on Vic Siman under the pretext of Coplan Armado, using government forces and resources. The fault of the other victims was that they were with the wrong company, at the wrong place and at the wrong time,” it added. (MNS)