MANILA (UPDATE 2) - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed multiple murder charges against police Supt. Hansel Marantan and 12 other policemen in connection with the Atimonan, Quezon rubout incident last January which left 13 people dead.
The charges were filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Gumaca, Quezon Thursday morning.
Charged along with Marantan, the alleged brains behind the operation, were:
Supt. Ramon Balauag
C/Insp Grant Gollod
S/Insp John Paolo Carracedo
S/Insp Timoteo Orig
SPO3 Joselito De Guzman
SPO1 Carlo Cataquiz
SPO1 Arturo Sarmiento
PO3 Eduardo Oronan
PO2 Nelson Indal
PO2 Al BhazarJailani
PO1 Wryan Sardea
PO1 Rodel Talento aka Rodel Tolentino
Marantan's group set up check points in Atimonan purportedly after receiving information that a syndicate was passing through, and ended up firing at the victims' SUVs.
The charges for mutiple murder were dismissed against then CALABARZON Police chief C/Supt. James Andres Melad; and Lt. Col. Monico Abang, then chief of the Army Special Forces Battalion, which provided support to the police contingent.
In a 43-page resolution, the DOJ said there was insufficient evidence against them.
The charges for multiple murder were also dismissed against the following soldiers from the Army Special Forces Battalion:
Cpt. Edwin Macalinao
Lt. Rico Tagure
Cpl. Rogelio Tejares
PFC Ricky Jay Borja
PFC Michael Franco
PFC Gilm Gallego
PFC Melvin Lumalang
PFC Alvin Roque Pabon
Pvt Emergin Barrete
Pvt Marc Zaldy Docdoc
The DOJ, through the panel of prosecutors that conducted the preliminary investigation of the case, said that "[t]he respondents PNP personnel, except for respondent Melad, conspired and confederated with each other to eliminate the victims."
The DOJ upheld the findings of the NBI that the operation was intended to "eliminate the group of Vic Siman," the alleged leader of a criminal syndicate.
"The killing was attended by the qualifying circumstances of evident premeditation, taking advantage of superior strength, treachery and with the aid of armed men," the resolution read.
As far as the soldiers are concerned, the DOJ said it was undeniable that they fired at the 2 SUVs that carried the victims, however, "[t]he evidence at hand do not indicate that the respondents AFP personnel were part of the conspiracy to eliminate the victims."
The soldiers "were merely in support when the police officers had begun firing," the DOJ said.
"Their participation in the said incident does not indicate any overt act to justify that they are in conspiracy with respondents PNP," the resolution read.
Charges of obstruction of justice against the following PNP Crime Laboratory personnel were also junked for insufficiency of evidence:
C/Insp Zaide Abrera, P/Insp Dickson Mercado, SPO1 Meldy Arojo, SPO1 Analiza Burcelango, PO3 Nestor Abuan, PO3 Archie Avila, and PO2 Bayani Gonzales.
The DOJ said that their "withdrawal of cooperation" from the NBI fact-finding investigation "does not amount to obstruction of justice."
The NBI claimed that the withdrawal of cooperation of said personnel left the (NBI) with some technical problems such as mismatching of the victims' firears, and other discrepancies.
However, the DOJ found probable cause to charge Carracedo and Tagure with obstruction of justice.
The DOJ said Carracedo "willfully and deliberately fired the firearms of the dead victims" while Tagure is a "principal by indispensable cooperation" when he broke the windows of the SUVs upon Carracedo's orders.
The resolution was signed by the members of the investigating panel, namely:
Sr. Deputy State Prosecutor Theodore Villanueva, chairman, and Asst. State Prosecutors Hazel Valdez and Niven Canlapan, Dasmarinas City Prosecutor Vimar Barcellano, and Prosecution Attorney Cesar Angelo Chavez III.
The panel's findings was approved by Prosecutor General Claro Arellano.