MANILA - The Supreme Court (SC) has granted the Department of Justice's (DOJ) plea for the transfer of the trial of the Atimonan rubout case against several police officers from Quezon to Manila.
In a notice, dated June 9, the high court's First Division ordered the Gumaca, Quezon Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 61 to forward the records of the multiple murder cases against Supt. Hansel Marantan and several other policemen in connection with the killing of 13 people in Atimonan town in January 2013 to the Manila RTC.
The cases will undergo raffle at the Manila RTC to be conducted by Executive Judge Marino Dela Cruz.
In a letter-request for change of venue, dated Oct. 21, 2013, the DOJ, through Prosecutor General Claro Arellano, cited security risk and high government cost involved in the transport of all the accused from the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City, where they are detained, to Gumaca.
The DOJ also pointed out that Gumaca is not a conducive place for trial due to the presence of "extremists" in the area, as well as its geographical location.
"The greater security risk involved, both on the part of the accused and the witnesses, makes the prosecution of the case in the Regional Trial Court of Gumaca, Quezon more complex and difficult. Hence, it would be more constructive and expedient to hold the trial in Manila," the letter-request read.
Transfer of trial venue is allowed by the 1987 Constitution to avoid a miscarriage of justice, and where there are justifiable reasons cited.
The group of the fatalities, led by Vic Siman, was fatally shot by Marantan's group in what was described as a "legitimate operation" against a suspected gambling syndicate.
However, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) found that what actually took place was a rubout, with some of the fatalities shot at close range.