New acting DCPO chief rigged with controversies

Dabawenyos share mixed reactions on changing of DCPO chiefs in 1 day
Police Colonel Hansel Marantan, newly-appointed acting chief of the Davao City Police Office (DCPO).
Police Colonel Hansel Marantan, newly-appointed acting chief of the Davao City Police Office (DCPO).File photo

POLICE Colonel Hansel Marantan, the Luzon-based policeman implicated in several controversies and legal cases, which include the 2013 “Atimonan Massacre” was appointed acting chief of the Davao City Police Office (DCPO) effective Wednesday, July 10, 2024.

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Police Colonel Hansel Marantan, newly-appointed acting chief of the Davao City Police Office (DCPO).
3 DCPO chiefs appointed in a day

This, after questionable and contentious appointments of the highest leadership in the DCPO’s history were made on the same day as three police colonels were appointed in a day, consecutively replacing one after the other. 

First, the Police Regional Office-Davao Region (PRO-Davao) designated Col. Lito Patay who was terminated in the middle of his ‘command conference’, four hours following his official installation.

Hours later, PRO-Davao confirmed that a new memorandum order from the Philippine National Police Headquarters in Camp Crame appointed Col. Sherwin M. Butil replacing Patay. 

However, Butil was also dismissed three hours after assuming his post.

On Wednesday night, PRO-Davao spokesperson Catherine Dela Rey announced in a group chat with local journalists that Marantan would be the official acting DCPO chief. His inauguration is yet to be announced.

“This is to confirm the designation of PCOL HANSEL M MARANTAN as the Acting City Director, Davao City Police Office, effective July 10, 2024. He replaces PCOL SHERWIN M BUTIL, the outgoing Officer-in-Charge of DCPO (sic),” her message to the journalists said.

This made Marantan, who comes from the National Capital Region (NCR), as the 20th DCPO city director upon the directive of PNP chief Police General Rommel Marbil.

As of press time, PRO-Davao has yet to respond to SunStar Davao’s queries concerning the matter and Regional Director Police Brigadier General Nicolas Torre III has also yet to face the local media.

Marantan’s background and previous controversies

Marantan was a graduate of the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) ‘Kabalikat’ Class of 1998.

2005 Valle Varde syndicate

In November 2005, Marantan was first criminally charged in connection with a purported encounter between operatives of the Highway Patrol Group and the so-called Valle Verde car theft syndicate. Four scions of wealthy families were reportedly killed.

2008 Parañaque shootout

Years later, in December 2008, Marantan was also involved in another intensive police operation against a robbery group known as “Waray-Ozamis Gang” in Parañaque City that left 16 people dead, including a migrant worker and his seven-year-old daughter who were caught in the crossfire.

Director Leopoldo Bataoil, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) during that time, described the event as the bloodiest firefight between lawmen and criminal elements in Metro Manila.

2010 robbery-kidnapping incident

In October 2010, Marantan and his colleagues from the 415th Provincial Police Mobile Group exchanged gunfire with a group of alleged kidnappers at a checkpoint in Candelaria, Quezon. The gunfight, which took place a short distance from Marantan's headquarters, claimed the lives of eight accused kidnappers.

2013 Atimonan massacre

In January 2013, Marantan was tagged as the principal suspect in the killing of 13 men at a checkpoint along Maharlika Highway in Atimonan, Quezon.

During that time, Marantan served as the deputy intelligence chief for Calabarzon. He was the team leader of  “Coplan: Armado,” an operation to go after Victor Siman, an alleged gambling lord.

Siman and 12 others, including environmentalist Jun Lontok, were killed when they passed through a checkpoint manned by police and soldiers.

Marantan claimed that Siman’s group shot at the government troops when they were flagged down at a checkpoint. However, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said it was a rubout contrary to the initial claims by the police authorities that it was a shootout incident.

2023 Negros Oriental massacre

The recent of most was an incident in May 2023. Marantan, who had been reinstated to his previous post as NCR Regional Chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), got involved as he was the principal person in the enforcement of search warrants on the home and land property of fugitive lawmaker Arnolfo Teves Jr., the alleged mastermind in the assassination of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo last March 4

However, the official won praises from senators and local politicians for his effective handling of cases of violence, particularly the massacre of Degamo and eight other people.

2023 alleged extortion

His name was also dragged along with two other officers and 10 police non-commissioned officers over an alleged extortion of expensive watches and other personal belongings from Chinese nationals in an illegal gambling on March 13. They were relieved from their posts later.

40 deaths in his hands

To date, the beleaguered acting chief of DCPO has been involved in at least four sensational gun battles purportedly with criminal gangs, resulting in a total of almost 40 people being killed.

Court’s ruling on his 2013 case

In an Omnibus Resolution dated August 30, 2013, the investigating panel of the Department of Justice (DOJ) resolved the criminal complaints filed by the National  Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the private complainants against officers from the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Philippine Army (AFP-PA), and PNP-Quezon Crime Laboratory, the panel recommended several charges against Marantan and his co-accused.

In 2014, the 43-page resolution, signed by Prosecutor General Claro Arellano of the Gumaca regional trial court in Quezon charged Marantan with multiple murder. 

However, in 2017, after being detained for years in Camp Crame, Manila Regional Trial Court Judge Liwliwa Didalgo Bucu allowed the accused to post bail, saying the prosecution failed to provide strong evidence against him for the bloodbath event.

Marantan was immediately reinstated in the PNP in the same year after the appellate board of the National Police Commission (Napolcom) granted his appeal.

Marantan’s 2021 promotional service

Marantan, who heads the intelligence division of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), was among the 16 police officials promoted to Colonel in 2021.

The PNP said Marantan was responsible for the arrest of suspected New People’s Army rebel leader Romeo Aytona Jr. in Quezon City in December of the same year.

National Police Commission Vice Chairman Vitaliano Aguirre II explained that under the law, police personnel with pending cases are eligible for promotion if their cases are not settled within two years.

Under Republic Act 9708, which amended RA 8551 or the PNP Reform and Reorganization Act, police officers with pending cases that remain unresolved after two years from the determination of probable cause are qualified for promotion.

“In the event the police officer is found guilty of the crime by final judgment, the promotion will be recalled without prejudice to the imposition of penalties under applicable rules,” the law read.

Reactions and sentiments among Davao citizens 

SunStar Davao interviewed some Dabawenyos regarding the situation of police security in the city. 

According to a 44-year-old street vendor in Barangay Ubalde, who refused to be named for fear of retribution, DCPO should have a pure-blooded or at least Bisaya roots leader as they personally witness the situation of Davao City particularly in crimes and violence.

“Nakuratan ko kay mura mag nagdula-dula ra sila kay bisa’g unsa nga oras ga kambyo sa mga opisyal. Dapat, kung mag-appoint mo diha, dapat kanang taga-Davao gyud or kanang Bisdak ba [Bisayang dako] kay ngano kanang mga taga-Manila. Kabalo ba sila sa sitwasyon sa Davao?” he said.

(I was shocked because they seemed to be just playing around because they have been replacing officers every hour. If they need to appoint he should be from Davao or a Bisdak [Bisayang dako] and not from Manila. Why? Do they know the situation in Davao?) he said.

Meanwhile, Kris Ramirez, a sari-sari store owner in the same Barangay told SunStar Davao that it was her first time to hear consecutive changes of leadership in DCPO, further citing that the move might be politically motivated and is linked to the current administration.

“Karon ra ko kadungog ani. Basig politika ni ba. Wala ta kabalo pud pero unsay naa nga ani nila nga, ako, para sa akoa, wala may mga dagkong kamalian ang mga police dinhia sa atoa,” she said. 

(This is my first time hearing this. Maybe it's politically motivated. We don't know either, but what is wrong with them because I think, our police here haven’t committed severe misconduct) 

Since March 2024, DCPO has chosen five city directors, including Marantan. The organization has also regularly carried out significant staff shake-ups and huge reorganizations. 

This included the dismissal of 35 police officials and personnel, including former DCPO chief Col. Richard Bad-ang on May 22nd, through the directive of Police Brig. Gen. Aligre Martinez, the previous director of PRO-Davao. 

PRO-Davao further clarified that, in contrast to some rumors, the reshuffling of the 19 station commanders on July 9 was a legitimate exercise of the regional police director's authority to enhance police services and uphold peace and order in the area. DEF

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