MANILA, Philippines - Rivalry over illegal gambling operations triggered the alleged shootout in Quezon province Sunday that left 13 people dead, relatives of one of the victims in a similar case believes.
The Quezon case is connected to a similar bloodbath in Laguna province last year, according to the kin of Nestor Banog, who was killed in another alleged police shootout in Calamba in November 2012 after he was accused of being a gun-for-hire.
Similar to the Atimonan case, Banog allegedly fired shots after being stopped at police checkpoint wherein a shootout reportedly ensued.
Five of his companions also died in the incident.
"Mga demonyo sila. Pinatay nila ng ganon ganoon lang," said his partner Janice Olaco.
Banog's family admitted that he worked as an administrator for the jueteng operation of Vic Siman in Laguna.
"Sabi niya sa akin parang tatay niya na rin yon, matagal na sila magkasama," Olaco said.
Retired Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, a crusader against illegal gambling, earlier described Siman as a "jueteng personality" in the region.
He also admitted to hearing the name of Supt. Hansel Marantan as among those involved in jueteng operations.
"Opo, nababanggit din po yan, kaya lang hindi gasino matingkad ang pangalan pagkat wala pa masyado sa taas - parang di pa gaanong pamosong masasabi," Cruz told dzMM.
Marantan, Calabarzon deputy regional intelligence head, allegedly has a brother who operates a small town lottery in Calamba.
He led the operation that led to the alleged encounter in Quezon province Sunday.
Marantan is facing multiple murder charges over the Calamba case.
Siman and his companions were shot dead in the Quezon incident.
Among those killed was Siman's brother Gerry who filed the complaint for multiple murder against Marantan before the Calamba regional trial court last November.
Before Banog died in the Calamba incident, he allegedly told relatives about the tight competition in illegal gambling in Laguna against a relative of Marantan.
"Sabi niya may video karera daw yung tita, eh kaso may video karera din sila," said Oscar Banog, an uncle of the victim.
Marantan has denied having a brother or relative involved in illegal gambling.
Aside from the Quezon and Laguna cases, Marantan has been implicated in other similar incidents, according to Justice Secretary Leila De Lima.
She said Marantan was also involved in a shootout in Parañaque City in 2008 where 16 people were killed, including at least 5 civilians. Other shooting incidents occurred in Ortigas, Pasig City; and Lucena City and Candelaria in Quezon.
The National Police Commission said it is now looking into Marantan's records, particularly his promotion as a police officer.
De Lima said she would recommend Marantan's relief from his position.
Banog's family, meanwhile, said the victims' group was robbed since it was on his way to Sta. Rosa to start a jueteng station.
Police deny the allegation and emphasize that the operation was legitimate.
The National Bureau of Investigation is now investigating the link between the alleged shootouts in Laguna and Quezon. - with a report from Niko Baua, ABS-CBN News; ANC