Atimonan report out this week

MANILA, Philippines - Almost a month after an alleged shootout in Atimonan, Quezon, killed 13 people, the Palace said on Monday, February 4 it expects to receive the report of the Department of Justice (DOJ) this week.

Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima gave President Benigno Aquino III her assurance they will submit their report on the incident this week amid criticism that their investigation has dragged on for too long.  

Aquino initially said the DOJ promised to submit its report to him upon his arrival from Davos on January 27, but the DOJ has also yet to get the findings of the National Bureau of Investigation, which was tasked to investigate the incident.

A total of 13 people, 3 of whom are members of the Philippine National Police, died in a reported shooutout with soldiers and policemen at a checkpoint in Atimonan, Quezon, on January 6. At least 23 police officials and men are being investigated for the incident.

Those who died included Supt. Alfredo Consemino, Paul Arcedillo Quiohilag, Leonardo Catapang Marasigan,Conrado Decillo, Victorino Siman Atienza Jr, Gerry Ancero Siman, Gruet Mantuano, PO1 Jeffrey Valdez,Tirso Lontoc Jr, Victor Gonzales, Maximo Manalastas Pelayo, Staff Sgt Armando Aranda Lescano and Jimbeam Justiniani.

De Lima has previously said that what happened on January 6 was far from a shootout, citing the respective statements of 3 witnesses who alleged that the purported members of the criminal gang were killed in cold blood. 

PNP chief Hansel Marantan - leader of the team that manned the Atimonan checkpoint - accused De Lima of being biased, however, and said that the NBI should submit its report directly to the Office of the Ombudsman, not the DOJ. 

The military also produced its own witness - Rolando Vico - who said the police fired back in self defense. The military has cleared the 25 members of Special Forces who were involved in the incident, saying they only retaliated after they were fired upon by the suspected criminals. -