Cops to face 13 counts of murder in Atimonan shooting

By Edu Punay, Philippine Star

Posted at Feb 07 2013 01:29 PM | Updated as of Feb 08 2013 01:11 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The killing was premeditated, and members of a police-military team will face 13 counts of murder.

This is the gist of the report submitted yesterday by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to Justice Secretary Lilia de Lima on the deaths of 13 men in Atimonan, Quezon last Jan. 6.

The team was led by police Superintendent Hansel Marantan, who is still recuperating from a wound in a hospital.

It was not clear if murder charges were also recommended against Chief Superintendent James Melad, who was sacked as regional police commander of the Calabarzon after the shooting. Malacañang has said Melad gave the green light for the operation that ostensibly targeted one of the 13 fatalities, alleged jueteng lord Vic Siman.

De Lima returned the report to the NBI yesterday for additional attachments. NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas submitted the report to the justice chief behind closed doors.

Around 30 minutes later, Rojas stepped out of De Lima’s office still carrying the five-inch-thick report.

He clarified De Lima did not return the report for revisions.

“The main report is already completed. We just need to attach some more annexes,” he said as he refused to discuss their findings with reporters.

De Lima said she expects the President to discuss the NBI findings with her for clarifications or clearance before making the report public.

Meanwhile, doctors at the PNP-General Hospital observed that Marantan’s recovery from the wound he sustained during the incident was slow.

Dr. Martin Sison recommended that Marantan undergo electromyogram nerve conduction velocity to determine if he has suffered nerve damage.

Rojas said they would resubmit the report this morning before it is forwarded to the Palace for official announcement.

A source privy to the investigation, however, confirmed to The STAR that there was ample basis to file 13 counts of murder against Marantan and his team.

The source said the probers were able to establish that the killing was premeditated.

However, the insider refused to confirm whether the level of liability would reach the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC).

“The report is just recommendatory. The Palace has discretion to accept or reject it,” the source said.

The NBI has summoned 12 ranking police and military officials, including Melad.

However, it was not confirmed if Melad is among those recommended charged for the incident.

Chief Superintendent Ma. Angela Vidal, director of the PNP Health Service, said Marantan underwent debridement and closure of his wound on the left arm on Tuesday.

Vidal said that Marantan’s electromyogram would be undertaken at the St. Luke’s Medical Center, with his private physician. She said the process would only take a few hours.

In the absence of any court case, the official said they would still seek approval from PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima before Marantan could be taken out of the PNP General Hospital.

Vidal said the police officer could not also walk on his own and is always assisted by his father due to his wounds in both legs.

She said Marantan continues to undergo therapy and needs to stay in the hospital for another two weeks.- with Cecille Suerte Felipe, Sandy Araneta