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Atimonan rubout

Manila, Philippines – After a thorough review of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Executive Report on the alleged shootout in Atimonan, Quezon last January, Malacanang announced yesterday that President Benigno S. Aquino has ordered Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to file multiple murder charges against those responsible for the incident.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that Aquino has accepted the findings of the NBI on the Atimonan incident in full that concluded it as a rubout and not a shootout.

“After a thorough review of the NBI Executive Report on the incident in Atimonan, Quezon, the President has accepted its findings in full. He has directed Secretary of Justice Leila de Lima to file the appropriate criminal and administrative charges against Hansel Marantan, James Andres Melad, and others,” Valte said. “The recommendation is for multiple murder charges,” she said.

“From the very start, the President had assured the public of a thorough investigation which would be the basis for holding to account, those found culpable in this incident,” Valte said.

Valte noted that in the Executive Summary, it was stated that: “Ultimately, the NBI probe reached the conclusion that no shootout occurred, thus, validating the initial result of the PNP Fact-finding Committee. The probe findings also showed that the victims were summarily executed and all indications point to a rubout.”

The Palace official meanwhile belied speculations that the timing of the Palace release of Aquino’s review on the NBI Executive Report was meant to divert the public’s attention from the current standoff in Sabah, Malaysia.

Valte said Malacanang is just making good with its commitment to release the result of the review as soon as Aquino is finished.

“Walang connection (ito) sa mga nangyayari ngayon (This is not connected with what is happening now in Sabah),” Valte said.

She also said this development on the Atimonan incident signifies that the Aquino administration would not hesitate to fully enforce the law against those who would instigate similar criminal and heinous acts.

“From the very beginning, what the President said was we will find those responsible for this if there is any culpability and we will press charges,” Valte said. “Especially if you are in uniform, you cannot be the one to violate the law.” (Madel S. Namit)

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