Atimonan Quezon checkpoint massacre: police shootout or underworld rubout?

Another plot for a future Filipino action film is unfolding. Thirteen people died in a shootout that occurred in Atimonan, Quezon Province. The thirteen people were allegedly in two vehicles that stopped at a checkpoint manned by a team composed of a mixture of police officers and army personnel led by police Supt. Hansel Marantan. Included among the dead was senior police official Supt. Alfredo Consemino. Two police officers and three soldiers along with businessman Victorino “Vic Siman” Atienza Jr were also among the dead.

bullet_holesAccording to the reported witness testimony of Christinne Consemino, a child of Supt Consemino, her father was on a “legitimate” trip supposedly coming from a meeting with a certain Ronnie Habitan to discuss a business venture involving the setting up of a security agency.

A Google search for the name “Ronnie Habitan” yielded a July 2012 news report involving the raid of mining-operator Ronnie Basar Habitan…

The Provincial Police Office (PPO) of Camarines Norte reported Monday (July 9) that two residences of mining-operator Ronnie Basar Habitan in Jacinto and Alakan Streets at barangay Plaridel in this town yielded caches of ammunitions, guns and explosives over the weekend in a raid conducted by joint Intelligence operatives of the PNP national headquarters, regional intelligence unit-5, and the PPO public safety company and the local police.


Seized from Habitan’s two houses were: 4 boxes of ammunition for Cal. 45; 3 boxes ammunition for Cal. 9mm; 9 boxes ammo. for Cal. 40; 1 box slug for Cal. 40; 1 box slug for Cal. 45; 2, silencers for long firearms; 1, bolt assembly for M-16 rifle; 1,Cal. 38 pistol, (ARMSCOR 22) with 5, ammunitions.

Other seized firearms consisted of 1, Cal. 9mm pistol (model BRYCO-59); 1, magazine for Cal. 9mm loaded with 8 bullets; 8, dynamite sticks (Nitro); and 10 meters safety time-fuse.

Atienza (a.k.a. Vic Siman), for his part is reportedly “a known jueteng operator and “godfather” of STL bookies in Laguna and Batangas provinces”. However, Atienza’s relatives deny that he is involved in this dark world of illegal numbers game…

To his family and neighbors, Victor Rimas Siman, or “Vic Siman,” was a good man who helped everyone who came to him for help.

“My brother was a very kind and generous man. He helped so many people—children with medical needs, alms for those who lost loved ones and so many others,” [elder sister] Ma. Teresa said.

Checkpoint leader Marantan allegedly has a sibling who is also a jueteng operator. More notable, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila De Lima also pointed out that “Marantan has been linked to several shooting incidents that were allegedly “rubouts” of criminal elements. She said the Quezon shooting would be the 5th incident linked to Marantan.” An report details his Callahanesque career…

Marantan, a graduate of the Philippine National Police Academy Class 1998, was charged for the supposed armed encounter between operatives of the PNP Highway Patrol Group and the suspected members of the Valle Verde car theft syndicate in Pasig City in November 2005.

Marantan, then a police senior inspector, was the team leader of the HPG operatives who killed alleged car thieves Anton Cu-Unjieng, Francis Xavier Manzano and Brian Anthony Dulay, who turned out to be members of wealthy families.

In December 2008, he again took part in a daring police operation against members of the dreaded Alvin Flores robbery group in Parañaque City.

Sixteen people, among them seaman Alfonso de Vera and his 7-year-old daughter Lia Allyana, were killed in the exchange of gunfire between the HPG operatives and the alleged robbers.

In October 2010, Marantan and his subordinates in the 415th Provincial Police Mobile Group traded shots with a group of supposed kidnappers at a checkpoint in Candelaria, Quezon.

Eight suspected kidnappers were killed in the gun battle, which happened just a few steps away from the headquarters of Marantan’s group.

Riiiiighttt. The plot thickenssszzzzz….

* * *

Other interesting factoids about this case “reported” across the Media:

(1) 200 bullet holes reportedly riddled the two vehicles, raising the question of whether excessive force was used by checkpoint personnel in their attempts to apprehend their “suspects”.

(2) Windows of the two vehicles were reportedly closed raising questions around whether shots were actually fired from the inside of said vehicles.

(3) Scene of Crime Operation (SOCO) personnel were reportedly not given first crack at the crime scene.

The whole drama seems flawed down to the very letters of its script!

In all this, it has to be highlighted that politicians, much more Chief Executives of the government, should not be issuing public commentary on open cases where investigations are on-going. Of course that is the sort of thing that escapes the common sensibilities of President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III who just had to share his “expert” opinion on the matter…

President Aquino on Wednesday voiced doubts that the clash between government security forces and an alleged criminal gang in Atimonan town, Quezon province, in which 13 people were killed on Sunday, was a shootout.

Mr. Aquino said he found inconsistencies in the initial police report on the clash that happened at an alleged security checkpoint in a sparsely populated stretch of Maharlika Highway in Atimonan.

Too much information coming from your usual gaping mouth, Chief. You should’ve just briefed the public on your actions on the matter rather than on any opinions about the case that may be residing in your pointed head.


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