MANILA -- The Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 34 on Thursday ordered the release of P/Supt. Hansel Marantan, and 10 others accused of involvement in the Atimonan rubout, after they posted P300,000 bail each.
Originally, there were 13 accused, but Supt. Ramon Balauag was discharged as state witness while PO2 Al Bhazar Jailani remained at large.
The rest of the policemen were detained for 4 years at the PNP Custodial Center:
- P/Supt. Hansel Marantan,
- 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,
- PO1 Wryan Sardea, and
- PO1 Rodel Talento, aka Rodel Tolentino.
According to court documents, the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses and the evidence were not found sufficient to prove the guilt of the accused.
“Except for accused Psupt. Marantan, PCI Gollod, PSI Carracedo (including Psupt. Balauag) there was no mention of the actual participation of the other accused other than their presence at the place of the incident,” documents said.
“Having determined that the evidence of guilt of the accused for the crime of Multiple Murder is not strong, it is now within the competence of the Court to grant bail and to fix the amount thereof."
Atty. Marwil Llasos, one of Marantan's legal counsels, said it is possible that he could be out on Thursday, upon the arrival of the release order from court.
Llasos explained that while multiple murder is considered a non-bailable offense, bail can be given if the prosecution is unable to present enough evidence.
"Ang nangyari rito matapos maglabas ng mga ebidensiya ang prosekusyon, ang Department of Justice, ang panel ng mga prosecutor, nakita ng husgado na hindi mabigat ang ebidensiya na pinanghahawakan ng prosekusyon kaya iginawad ang petition for bail," Llasos said.
In the case against Marantan, et al, the court did not find any serious evidence presented by the DOJ, which is why the court granted petition for bail. Llasos also said that various testimonies presented by the prosecution appeared contradictory and inconsistent.
"Iyong mga physical evidence na pinagbatayan ng husgado talagang maraming butas ang pagkakaprisinta ng prosekusyon. At higit sa lahat, ang hindi nila masagot-sagot sa haba ng panahon na itinagal ng petition for bail hearing,” he said.
“Sino ang unang pumutok, sino ang unang tinamaan, sino ang unang nabuwal'. Alam naman natin na base sa ebidensiya na si Col. Marantan ang unang tinamaan at siya ang unang nabuwal doon sa pangyayari.”
Llasos firmly pointed out that the prosecution “for the longest time” was not able to answer questions as to who fired first, who was shot first and who were hit during the encounter.
Marantan's camp repeatedly asserted that Marantan was the first to be shot at during the initial firing.
Meanwhile, lawyer Roberto Diokno, another legal counsel of Marantan, said his client was happy with the court's decision for bail and his temporary freedom.
"Elated siya. It took almost 4 years. One they professed their innocence, 4 years na nakulong, walang suweldo, but still they subjected themselves to the judicial process kaya very happy at least nakuha na rin nila ang tamang justice," he said.
He also clarified that Marantan was never dismissed from service.
"There was an order from the PNP Internal Affairs Service, pero hindi pa final and executory. Nag-file na kami ng MR (Motion for Reconsideration)," he said.