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Calabarzon PNP chief, 4 other key officers sacked over two killings
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines - Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II has ordered the relief of the regional police director of Calabarzon over the questionable arrest of a man in Batangas whom news reports tagged as an alleged member of the Vic Siman group.

Roxas said in an earlier interview that he directed the relief of Chief Supt. James Melad as well as other police officers involved in the arrest of Fernando "Pandoy" Morales, who died after allegedly fighting it out with arresting officers in San Juan, Batangas Monday.

According to the DILG chief, President Benigno Aquino III lost confidence in Melad's leadership over the successive controversial incidents in his area of responsibility. 

"Nawalan ng kumpiyansa ang Pangulo sa pamumuno ni General Melad [The President has lost confidence in General Melad's leadership]," Roxas said at a press conference on Tuesday citing the controversial January 6 incident in Atimonan, Quezon where 13 people were killed incuding police and military operatives in a supposed shootout and the questionable service of an arrest warrant over the supposed aide of Vic Siman in San Juan, Batangas that led to the death of the suspect. 

Roxas said four more ranking Calabarzon police officers had been relieved besides Melad, even as he urged the ground commander in the Atimonan shooting on Sunday to cooperate with NBI probers.

Local police had said a warrant of arrest was being served against Morales in his residence when he allegedly resisted and fought it out with the policemen, leading to his death.

But Roxas wondered aloud how 20 arresting officers failed to subdue a lone man.

"Some of the questionable aspects including the serving of a warrant at 1:30 a.m.---and again how could properly trained policemen not contain the situation where they apparently had overwhelming force leading to the death of the arrestee?" Roxas said in the interview aired earlier over ANC.

Roxas, however, could not confirm if Morales was indeed a member of Siman's group as reported by some news agencies. Siman was among those killed in the incident in Atimonan, Quezon, the doubtful circumstances of which prompted President Aquino himself to ask the NBI to exclusively investigate whether it was really a shootout at a police checkpoint, as claimed by local police, or an outright ambush or a rubout that killed 13 people, including three police officers and two soldiers.

Roxas later on Tuesday announced the relief of more officials of the PNP-Calabarzon region to give way to an impartial investigation into the series of killings in the region involving policemen.

Both Quezon and Batangas fall under the jurisdiction of PNP Region 4-A or Calabarzon.

Those who were relieved, aside from Melad, were Supt. Rosauro Acio, the Batangas provincial police director; Supt. Raul Tacaca, head of the SWAT unit of the Batangas police public safety company; Supt. Elpidio Ramirez, chief of the San Juan municipal police station; and Chief Insp. Rodolfo Ama, also of the San Juan police.

Last week, Roxas also announced the relief of the Quezon police provincial commander, the chief of police of Atimonan town and several others in connection with the Atimonan killings.

In a press conference in Camp Crame Tuesday afternoon, Roxas also turned over to the NBI an eight-page report of the PNP Fact-Finding Committee that was formed to look into the Atimonan shooting incident. The NBI has been designated by President Aquino as the sole investigating authority in connection with the case.

Also during the press conference, Roxas advised Supt. Hansel Marantan, who led the government ground forces that figured in the Atimonan shooting, to submit himself to the investigation process of the NBI.

“Pinapayuhan ko si Supt. Marantan na sumailalim sa NBI process. Hindi magandang hindi kayo sumailalim sa isang malinaw at transparent na proseso,” Roxas said. 

The DILG secretary earlier said Marantan, who is confined in a private hospital due to bullet wounds he allegedly sustained during the Atimonan shooting, refused to cooperate with the PNP Fact-Finding Committee. Marantan reportedly declined to give a statement or show his wounds as well as the slugs recovered from his body.

Roxas has vowed that there would be no whitewash in the investigation of both the Atimonan shooting and the subsequent killing of Morales in Batangas, which are believed to be related.