Death of Siman aide raises more questions

Posted at 01/15/2013 10:23 AM | Updated as of 01/15/2013 3:17 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The death of an alleged member of the Vic Siman group on Monday has raised more questions about the January 6 "shootout" in Atimonan, Quezon that killed 13 people.

Fernando "Pandoy" Morales, an alleged member of the Siman group, was killed before dawn Monday after allegedly fighting his arresting officers.

However, Pandoy's wife, Merlita, said her husband was not even armed and had shown willingness to be subjected to police search and questioning.

Merlita said around 20 heavily armed policemen raided their house in San Juan, Batangas between 1 and 2 a.m. and forcibly took Pandoy, who was only wearing his underwear, out of their room.

She said her husband was accosted while policemen locked her up inside their room. She then heard several shots being fired.

"Pagka-kuha po [kay Pandoy] sinarado ang kwarto ko. Huwag daw po akong lalabas. Pagkatapos dinala siya sa kusina, at pagkalabas ng pintuan may narinig akong putok na sa pag-aakala ko warning shot nila 'yun," Merlita told dzMM.

"Mamaya matapos iyung sunod-sunod na putok, mayroon na pong umandar na tatlong sasakyan."

Merlita said it was already around 3 a.m. when she was allowed to get out of the room. She then saw her dead husband with a gun beside him.

"Sa ulo po ang tama. [Mayroon] sa bunganga, at saka sa tuhod, sa paa, sa kamay. Ako ay nagtataka: Bakit may baril sa pinagpatayan sa aking asawa? Paano siya makakakuha ng baril eh hindi nga siya makakilos," she said.

Overkill?

Merlita also questioned the way the police conducted the operation. She said the policemen told her they have a search warrant but were not able to present any document.

She also noted that the policemen shut the house's lights off and only used flashlights in looking for her husband.

Inspector Alelie Buaquen of the Provincial Police Safety Command earlier said they arrested Pandoy for illegal possession of firearms.

The Morales family believes Pandoy was killed because of his supposed knowledge of the alleged shootout in Atimonan, Quezon which took the lives of 13 people, including Siman.

Merlita admitted her husband knew Siman but denied he was involved in alleged jueteng activities.

"Si Vic Siman ay tiyuhin ng asawa ng aking anak, kaya naging kumpare namin siya. Iyung side ng babae, tiyuhin niya si Vic Siman," she said.

It was alleged that Pandoy was supposed to take over the functions of the slain Jun Banog in the Siman group.

Pandoy, 36, is survived by Merlita and their five children.

January 6 encounter

Siman, along with several police officers, were killed in a police encounter in Atimonan, Quezon on January 6.

The alleged shootout is now the subject of an investigation after doubts were raised over the intention of the policemen who set up the checkpoint in Barangay Lumutan.

The policemen stationed at the checkpoint claimed that the men, on board two sports utility vehicles, fired the first shots. They said the checkpoint was set up after they received reports that a private armed group would pass by the area.

The relatives of the slain men, however, believe the incident was a rub-out. Several photos have since surfaced suggesting that the crime scene was tampered.

Several police officials and personnel, including Supt. Hansel Marantan and Quezon Police chief Val De Leon, have been relieved from their posts for supposedly violating operational procedures on checkpoints.

Marantan, the intelligence officer who led the checkpoint, has been accused of plotting the operation in an attempt to kill the 13 men who were his alleged turf rivals in jueteng.

Marantan has denied being involved in any illegal gambling operation.