Atimonan incident: Ambush or shootout?

Natashya Gutierrez
Almost 2 weeks after the Atimonan Quezon incident, there are more questions than answers

MANILA, Philippines – Ambush or shootout?

Almost 2 weeks after the Atimonan Quezon incident, there are more questions than answers.
Natashya Gutierrez reports.

Three days into the probe on the Quezon shooting that killed 13 men, conflicting accounts surface.
It’s the NBI’s witnesses versus the military and Supt Supt Hansel Marantan.
Marantan, the head of the checkpoint, still refuses to speak.
Marantan’s counsel, Crisanto Buela, says he will speak soon, but insists that the re-enactment by police witnesses was all wrong.
He says they have a witness, a bystander, whom they will present to the NBI.
The lawyer the witness saw Marantan fall and that the first shot came from the vehicle.

CRISANTO BUELA, MARANTAN’S LAWYER: We promise we will present him to you at the right time.

The NBI finally obtains the gun Marantan was carrying.
An NBI doctor also examines his wounds.

HECTOR CORPUZ, MARANTAN’S LAWYER: We have submitted Supt Marantan to medical examination by the NBI, the NBI medical examiner opened his wounds and we have also submitted the firearm at the possession of Marantan in Atimonan.

Officials of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Committee deny Marantan’s account the agency authorized the operation.
They say they approved cash to fund intelligence, but did not authorize Coplan Armado, an operation targeting organized crime groups, specifically Victor “Vic” Siman, one of the victims of the shooting.
The military also turns over the guns used by soldiers at the checkpoint to the NBI.
Col Monico Abang admits to firing a warning shot around the same time that shots were fired.
He doesn’t answer when asked what the warning shot was for but insists what happened was a shootout.
He says he didn’t see Marantan drop, but saw him being taken away.

Q: Sir, ano yung nauna nagkaputukan or warning shot was first fired?
COL. MONICO LABANG, SPECIAL TASK FORCE: Nagkaputukan po. Nagkaputukan. Bale halos kasabay po. Kaya po warning shot po.
Q: Colonel, nakita niyo pong may tumumba po?
COL. MONICO LABANG, SPECIAL TASK FORCE: Bale hindi ko nakitang tumumba, pero nakita ko noong hinihila si Supt. Marantan na sugatan po.

Still it is not clear whether Abang’s shot triggered the volley of gunfire.
Marantan is reportedly linked to a criminal gang, which is the rival gang of Siman.
A probe by the NBI initially concludes it was more likely an ambush.

NATASHYA GUTIERREZ, REPORTING: As various characters of this so-called circus start to speak out, the supposed ring leader’s decision to remain silent is hurting him. He may speak soon, but it might be too late as emerging facts continue to contradict his side of the story.

Natashya Gutierrez, Rappler, Manila.

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