De Lima slammed over Atimonan re-enactment
MANILA, Philippines - Counsels of Supt Hansel Marantan on Friday, January 18, asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to submit its findings on the Atimonan killings to the Ombudsman and not to the Department of Justice.
Crying foul over the "overly excited" involvement of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima in the investigation, Marantan's camp questioned her decision to invite the media to a re-enactment of the crime last Thursday, January 17, in Atimonan, Quezon.
Marantan was the head of the police team that manned a checkpoint in Atimonan, Quezon, on January 6, where an alleged encounter with criminals took place. Police investigators however have cast doubt on the claim of a shootout, given that most of the 13 victims were shot in the head and eventually tested negative for paraffin.
"We have again witnessed how the rights of the military men and the policemen involved have been violated by no less than the Secretary of Justice, Leila de Lima," said the statement issued by Marantan's lawyers led by Hector Corpuz.
"We were surprised to see Secretary de Lima there with so many press people covering the event… The Secretary had absolutely no business being there to lead the re-enactment," it added.
After the re-enactment and after interviewing supposed witnesses to the crime, De Lima ruled out a shootout and declared that the 13 victims were shot in cold blood.
Marantan's camp said that President Benigno Aquino III had given the NBI, not the DOJ, the sole power to probe the incident. The NBI, however, is under the DOJ.
De Lima had wanted to create a special team to investigate the Atimonan killings. But President Aquino rejected her proposal, assigning the NBI instead to investigate.
Marantan's camp noted how the NBI has been careful in issuing official statements on the incident to the media.
They said: "She held a presscon and told the press people present there that she cannot find the appropriate term to call it. An ambush? A rubout? A prosecution?"
The statement said that because of De Lima's "irresponsible" behavior, the lawyers wrote a letter to NBI director Nonnatus Rojas asking him to submit his findings to the Ombudsman and not to De Lima. This was "to prevent the miscarriage of justice," the statement said.
"For how can we get a fair chance from the DOJ when their boss, the Secretary of Justice, has already spoken pre-empting everything," it said.
Marantan however has also refused to cooperate with investigators. The Philippine National Police tried to get an official statement from him but has so far failed.
Reports and Marantan himself said he was wounded in the incident, but there has been no official medical report on this.
The NBI finally got to Marantan at the posh St Luke's hospital in Taguig on Friday, where an NBI doctor examined his wounds. The agents also confiscated Marantan's gun.
Marantan is being linked to a rival criminal gang that was fighting with one of the 13 victims in the Atimonan killings. - Rappler.com