25 soldiers in Atimonan shootout face administrative raps

By Jaime Laude, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 26 2013 08:14 AM | Updated as of Jan 26 2013 04:17 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Twenty-five soldiers involved in the killing of 13 men in Atimonan, Quezon last Jan. 6 might face administrative charges.

However, Col. Ernesto Bolina, Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) spokesman, said they are still awaiting the official and final report of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

The Solcom intends to use the NBI findings to determine whether to take administrative action against the soldiers, he added.

The 25 Special Forces soldiers under the command of Lt. Col. Monico Abang supported the police-led operation.

The soldiers are now confined at their battalion headquarters in Candelaria, Quezon.

They submitted themselves to the NBI for investigation yesterday.

NBI agents went to the Philippine National Police (PNP) General Hospital in Camp Crame yesterday to take the statement of Superintendent Hansel Marantan, who handed over his affidavit to the NBI team led by Danielito Lalusis.

Marantan insisted the shootout in Atimonan, Quezon was a legitimate police operation.

Marantan was with his two lawyers.

Officers at the PNP General Hospital prevented the NBI agents from bringing video equipment.

Lalusis said Marantan’s affidavit will form part of the NBI probe into the shooting incident.

Marantan is still in a cast and could barely move due to his wounds, he added.

After about 15 minutes inside Marantan’s hospital room, the NBI team went to Kiangan Billeting Center in Camp Crame where 20 other policemen are in restrictive custody. Members of the media were barred from entering Marantan’s room.

The NBI team stayed for about 45 minutes at Kiangan, where they took the affidavits of 10 other policemen involved in the shootout.

Lalusis said Police Officer 2 Romy Cerdena has not submitted an affidavit in the absence of his lawyer.

PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima said Marantan has yet to turn over to investigators for analysis the vehicle he used in the police operation in Atimonan.

Purisima has placed 22 policemen, including Marantan, under restrictive custody at Camp Crame while they are facing an administrative case.

“The purpose is to make all of them available anytime while the administrative procedures are ongoing,” Purisima said.

Last Jan. 18, NBI agents went to St. Luke’s Hospital in Taguig and seized Marantan’s gun and examined his wound.

Last Jan. 24, Marantan’s superior, Calabarzon police director Chief Superintendent James Andres Melad, went to the NBI with his lawyers to submit his affidavit. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Sandy Araneta