MANILA - Police Supt. Hansel Manantan’s colleagues involved in the January 6 bloodbath in Atimonan, Quezon can still become state witnesses.
“We’re giving them a chance to cooperate and possibly be considered state witnesses. I’m directing such appeal to the enlisted men or the lower-ranked operatives involved in the operations. We assure them of their safety,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima told reporters today.
She said their help can bolster the accounts of two eyewitnesses, whose testimonies led to an initial conclusion that there was no “shootout” between the Vic Siman group and security forces last January 6.
She hopes the men will “genuinely cooperate and speak out the truth…If that happens, the government assures him or them, as the case maybe, of their safety and proper treatment.”
There are more than 40 police and military officers being investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation.
Marantan, until now, insists the Siman group fired at them first.
De Lima, who stands by her civilian witnesses, said evidence contradicts his claim. She said charges await Marantan after a preliminary investigation and a possible probe against them.
The counsel for the security forces, Crisanto Buella, lambasted de Lima for prejudging the case.
He said justice secretaries should be careful in commenting about ongoing probes. Rules also provide that resolutions that arise from preliminary investigations can be reviewed by the secretary.