MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) clarified that its state prosecutors attended the first hearing of the multiple murder case against several police officers in connection with the Atimonan rubout on Jan. 6, 2013.
Prosecutor General Claro Arellano and prosecuting panel head, Senior Deputy State State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva, told ABS-CBN News that the DOJ prosecuting team went to Atimonan for the first hearing last September 27 with the Gumaca, Quezon Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 61.
The clarification was made in the wake of reports some of the victims' kin complained of the supposed non-appearance of the DOJ prosecutors.
"The first hearing was held on 27 September 2013, wherein the motions filed by the prosecution, namely, the Motion for a Hold Departure Order (HDO) against all the accused and the Motion for Reconsideration on the non-issuance of a warrant of arrest against PSInsp Timoteo Orig, as well as various motions filed by the accused, namely Motion for Reconsideration on the issuance of warrants of arrest as to the other accused, Motion for Judicial Determination of Probable Cause filed by accused Orig and Motion for Inhibition of the Judge, were jointly tackled.'
"Prosecutors Cesar Angelo Chavez and Jayvee Bandong of the DOJ-NPS (National Prosecution Service) Main Office, and Prosecutor Jose Federico Gendrado of the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Quezon were in attendance," read a press release issued by the DOJ.
Arellano and Villanueva added that the DOJ prosecuting team did not appear in the second hearing on Nov. 29 because they already submitted their opposition to the motion of the accused for the inhibition of Presiding Judge Maria Chona Pulgar Navarro ahead of the scheduled second hearing.
The DOJ also clarified that they sent a representative from the Quezon Prosecutor's Office to the second hearing.
Arellano and Villanueva assured the victims' kin and the public of the DOJ's continued commitment to secure the conviction of the 13 accused, among them police Supt. Hansel Marantan.
In a resolution last September, the DOJ ruled that Marantan and the other policemen targeted the fatalities' group, led by alleged gambling lord Vic Siman.