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Is cop suspect in Atimonan rubout still in PH? Police can't say

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA - Th Philippine National Police (PNP) cannot state definitively whether Supt. Ramon Balauag, implicated in the January 6 Atimonan rubout, is still in the country, amid reports the former intelligence chief of Quezon province flew to China last month. The PNP spokesman said Wednesday they had yet to check with other government agencies details of the reported flight to China of Balauag, one of the police officers charged with 13 counts of murder in connection with the killing of 13 people, including a police colonel and an alleged jueteng financier, over a jueteng turf war.

“We have not yet seen the immigration report [to be able] to comment,” said Senior Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, spokesman of the Sindac, in answer to questions on whether the PNP tracker teams already have information about Balauag’s possible escape to China. Nor could they comment on whether or not they are going to ask the Interpol for help.

Sindac's reaction followed an exclusive report by InterAksyon.com that Balauag, who had been placed on restricted custody under the Headquarters Support Service (HSS) in order to ensure his availability for all hearings on the case, flew to China last June 16, days after the last closed-door hearing at Camp Crame, and three weeks before he was declared AWOL.

Immigration data obtained by InterAksyon.com showed that Balauag, former intelligence chief of the Quezon provincial command, boarded a Southern China airlines flight, OZ 702 on June 16. He was shown on immigration computers to have flown back after 41 days, this time aboard a Philippine Airlines flight.

Balauag was one of the police officers accused in the Atimonan rubout of persons, including a police superintendent and an illegal numbers game (jueteng) financier.  The accused police officers at first reported there was a shootout at a checkpoint, but a subsequent probe by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) showed the suspects were summarily liquidated, in an apparent turf war over jueteng.

Balauag was among 13 police officers led by Supt. Hansel Marantan who manned a checkpoint on January 6, 2013, in Barangay Lumutan, Atimonan, Quezon. The operation targetted 13 individuals on board two sports utility vehicles, and led to fatal a "shootout."

As a result of the NBI findings, President Benigno Aquino III ordered the filing of murder charges against Marantan and his group, including military personnel whom the police had tapped for their composite team for a supposed special operations

Other police officers facing 13 counts of murder are former Region IV-A police director Chief Supt. James Andres Melad, Senior Insp. John Paolo Carracedo, Senior PO1 Arturo Sarmiento, Senior Insp. Timoteo Orig, Chief Insp. Grant Gollod, Senior PO3 Joselito de Guzman, Senior PO1 Carlo Cataquiz, PO3 Eduardo Oronan, PO2 Nelson Indal, PO2 Al Bhazar Jailani, PO1 Wryan Sardea and PO1 Rodel Talento.

The military personnel include Lt. Col. Monico Abang, commander of the Army’s 1st Special Forces battalion, Capt. Erwin Macalinao; 1Lt. Rico Tagure; Cpl. Rogelio Tejares; Privates 1st Class Michael Franco, Alvin Roque Pabon, Ricky Jay Borja, Melvin Lumalang and Gil Gallego; and Private Marc Zaldy Docdoc and Emergin Barrete.

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