Monday, March 11, 2013

PA chief: Legal aid to be provided to 14 soldiers implicated in Atimonan shootout

From the Philippine News Agency (Mar 11): PA chief: Legal aid to be provided to 14 soldiers implicated in Atimonan shootout

Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes Monday said they will do their best to provide legal assistance to the 14 soldiers implicated by the Dept. of Justice in the Jan. 6 shootout in Atimonan, Quezon where 13 people, including a police colonel and an environmentalist, were killed.

He also said the decision to give legal aid to the 14 was borne out by the fact that the military men were merely responding to a call of assistance by the police.

"They were merely following procedure as stated about (sic) the Joint Security Coordinating Committee and they acted in good faith regarding that matter," Coballes stressed.

The PA chief also expressed willingness to bring the 14 to the courts providing that proper charges against them are filed.

"If charges are filed, we will bring them to the courts and should a warrant of arrest be issued, we will abide by that decision," he added.

Coballes also clarified that they will only dismiss the 14 from the service once the courts issued a guilty finding against the latter.

He also pointed out that the PA is conducting its own investigation on the incident to determine whether there are lapses on the part of the 14.

Coballes said this will allow them to correct this and avoid a repeat of a similar incident.

Military personnel to be charged with multiple murder, as per DOJ recommendations, are Lt. Col. Monico Abang, the battalion commander, Capt. Erwin Macalinao, 1st Lt. Rico Tagure, Technical Sgt. Melanio Balauitan, Cpl. Clark Magusara, Pfc. Michael Franco, Pfc. Kirby-Tam Coronel, Pfc. Alvin Roque Pabon, Pfc. Ricky Jay Borja, Pfc. Melvin Lumalang, Pfc. Gil Gallego, Pvt. Marc Zaldy Docdoc, Pvt. Emergin Barrete and Pvt. Michard Manago.

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