Murder charges would be slapped on 21 PNP officers and 14 military personnel for summary shooting to death 13 people over gambling turf war, said authorities on Wednesday.
The incident happened at 3:20 p.m., on January 6 in the vicinity of a road block put up in Brgy. Lumutan, Atimonan, Quezon, where the police officers and military personnel manning the checkpoint have allegedly engaged in a shootout with 2 carloads of criminal gang.
President Benigno Aquino ordered an investigation based on media reports that among those slain were a gambling lord Victorino Siman Atienza and 5 police and military officers who were allegedly escorting and protecting Atienza.
Pres. Aquino’s spokeswoman Abigail Valte, quoting from a 64-page report by the justice department, said that the 13 victims were summarily executed and all indications point to a rubout, which means nobody from inside the 2 cars of alleged criminal gang initiated firing or able to fire back.
The same source recommends the filing of murder charges to the alleged suspects.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said that the suspects 21 police officers and 14 members of a military unit, who are currently in custody, conspired to eliminate Vic Siman, the slain head of a lottery racket known as jueteng.
Jueteng, a favorite illegal gambling lottery game indulged in daily by the masses of people, is known to generate millions of pesos that are often used to finance campaign funds by politicians with private armies or policemen as personal bodyguards.
De Lima said Superintendent Hansel Marantan planned and led the ambush to protect a local rival of Siman. Marantan was a known protector of video karera operator “Ka Tita” of Laguna.
Marantan who was wounded as reported earlier has insisted the incident was a shootout, claiming his wounds were the result of the exchange of gunfire between his group and the victims.
An examination of the bullet that hit Marantan showed that it was fired from an Armscor cal.45 pistol registered to Siman’s cousin, Gerry Siman, but the NBI ruled out the possibility of Gerry Siman firing the shot that injured Marantan as he was seated in the left side of the third row of the first Montero SUV, the report said.
The objective of the operation was to kill all the victims. The checkpoint was set up to kill Vic Siman and company. There was no shoot-out, De Lima told reporters.
Two of the victims were able to step out of the vehicle and manifested sign of surrender yet the operatives still fired on them, the report said.
In their attempt to cover up the crime, De Lima said the accused police and military officers tampered with the crime scene to appear it was a shootout.
The NBI said Chief Superintendent James Andrew Melad, though not at the crime scene when the killings happened, was also liable for the incident.
“Records will belie any allegation of limited knowledge on Melad’s part, considering that he is not only Marantan’s superior but also had direct supervision over Marantan from the time of the planning of Coplan Armado until the occurence of the Atimonan shooting incident,” the NBI’s report said.
“Melad did not confront Marantan about the checkpoint operation and that was despite the fact of the questionable checkpoint operation that resulted in the deaths of all the occupants of the two SUVs,” it added.
The authorities did not say when the accused would be formally charged.
These are pictures of one of the 13 victims. These pictures have a story to tell. One of the pictures on the right has a gun near the victim’s hand while the other picture has none. The NBI said this victim was shot at close range.
Aside from Marantan and Melad, other PNP and AFP personnel recommended to be charged with multiple murder are:
• SInsp. John Paolo Carracedo
• SPO1 Arturo Sarmiento
• Supt. Ramon Balauag
• SInsp. Timoteo Orig
• SPO3 Joselito de Guzman
• SPO1 Carlo Cataquiz
• PO3 Eduardo Oronan
• PO2 Nelson Indal
• PO2 Al Bhazar Jailani
• PO1 Wryan Sardea
• PO1 Rodel Talento
• Chief Insp. Grant Gollod
• Insp. Ferdinand Aguilar
• Insp. Everisto San Juan
• PO3 Benedict Dimayuga
• PO2 Ronnie Serdena
• PO1 Esperidion Corpuz Jr
• PO1 Bernie de Leon
• PO1 Allen Ayubo
• Lt. Col. Monico Abang
• Capt. Erwin Macalinao
• 1st Lt. Rico Tagure
• TSG Melanio Balauitan
• Corporal Clark Magusara
• Private First Class Michael Franco
• PFC Kirby-Tam Coronel
• PFC Alvin Roque Pabon
• PFC Ricky Jay Borja
• PFC Melvin Lumalang
• PFC Gil Gallego
• PVT Marc Zaldy Docdoc
• PVT Emergin Barrete, and
• PVT Michard Mangao
• Philippine police, troops accused of …
• Atimonan bloodbath: a turf war …
This report is based on the investigation, findings and recommendation of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) regarding the January 6 Atimonan shooting incident. I have a high respect for men in uniform knowing that they are there to maintain peace and order as well as to help the citizenry protect their lives and limbs. Engaging in unlawful activities like protecting gambling lords, drug lords, etc. in exchange for money is not one of their functions. There’s still time for them to mend their ways.