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De Lima: Probe on Quezon encounter to touch Marantan's involvement in past 'shootouts'

January 9, 2013 6:26pm
Superintendent Hansel Marantan's legal cases will be taken into consideration during the investigation on Sunday's alleged shootout between his group and another group of mostly armed men in Quezon province.

In an interview with reporters Wednesday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said those cases, all related to shootouts, will “be looked into because it might be important in establishing the motive, especially kung ang kalalabasan ng investigation ay negative ang encounter."

The investigation, to be conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), an agency under the Department of Justice (DOJ), will determine if the shootout was a legitimate encounter or a rubout, as claimed by the families of the fatalities.

Marantan, acting group director of MIMAROPA regional headquarters service group, is facing investigation for the bloodbath that left 13 people, including three policemen and an environmentalist, dead.

Marantan, who was wounded in the incident, claimed the fatalities were members of a gun-for-hire group, a claim denied by the dead men's families.

The fatalities, on board two vehicles, were reportedly fired upon by the policemen after they ignored a checkpoint along a highway in Atimonan town.

In the interview, De Lima confirmed that Marantan had been involved in past encounters with suspected criminals, including the November 2005 firefight between police and three suspected car thieves in Ortigas, Pasig.

Another was the armed encounter between policemen and suspected robbers in Parañaque City in December 2008 that resulted in the death of a vacationing seaman and her daughter, who were both caught in the crossfire.

De Lima said she is also aware of reports that Marantan was also part of police teams that figured in separate encounters in Bulacan and Cabuyao, Laguna.

Jueteng

Asked on the possibility that the shootout in Quezon was connected to the operations of the illegal numbers game jueteng in the province, De Lima said: "Hindi siguro maiiwasan kung iyon ang lumabas, kasi sasagutin din ang tanong na ano ba ang operations na iyon. Bakit kailangan nila abangan ang grupo nila."

According to reports, the checkpoint was set up after Marantan received intelligence report regarding a gun-for-hire group that authorities had been pursuing.

But De Lima said she wants to know more about the intelligence report that Marantan's group received, as well as the purpose of the slain victims' trip.

"What exactly was the tip na natanggap ng grupo ni Marantan? Gun for hire ba sila or illegal numbers? Saan sila [fatalities] pupunta? May ide-deliver ba sila na pera o dahil nga may involved na unformed men in active service, na ung firearms nga ay mostly licensed," she said.

"Hindi maiiwasan na titignan iyan and other motives and bakit si Marantan ang nag-head ng team," she added.

Promotion

De Lima also lamented how Marantan had been promoted despite his involvement in past controversial shootouts.

Before a police official gets promoted, they need to secure a clearance from the Commission on Human Rights—which De Lima used to chair—indicating that he or she has not been involved in cases concerning human rights violations.

"Ang problema lang, there is no law that specifically mandates that in an absence of a CHR clearance then you are not qualified for promotion," De Lima said.

"Ang nagyayari lang is persuasive or parang red flag lang na kapag negative ang clearance, ingat ka rin sa pagpo-promote sa taong ito," she added.

De Lima said bills had been filed in the past seeking to bar the promotion of police officers facing human rights complaints with the CHR, but none have been passed.

"Some quarters in Congress argue na kaso pa lang naman 'yan so culpability of that police officer has not been established yet. There's presumption of innocence, bakit daw magiging factor in the promition. Kaya hindi pa naisusulong ang panukala na iyan," she said. — KBK, GMA News
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