PNP: Negros Oriental operations where 14 died 'not a massacre'
File photo shows Police General Oscar Albayalde in a press briefing at Camp Crame, Quezon City.
The STAR/Boy Santos

PNP: Negros Oriental operations where 14 died 'not a massacre'

(Philstar.com) - April 1, 2019 - 11:11am

MANILA, Philippines — Police General Oscar Albayalde, Philippine National Police chief, said Monday that the police operations over the weekend that left 14 dead happened across the province.

On Saturday, a report from the Philippine National Police Directorate Police Operations office in Visayas said that eight people were killed in Canlaon City, four in Manjuyod and two in Catalina in Negros Oriental.

Rights groups Karapatan, farmers' groups UMA and National Federation of Sugar Farmers condemned the killing of the 14, whom they said were just farmers and habal-habal drivers.

READ: 14 dead in Negros Oriental police operations

But Albayalde, in a press briefing on Monday stressed that the authorities were armed with 36 search warrants when they conducted the operation on Saturday.

“Thirty-six search warrants in different parts of Negros Oriental. It is not true that this is a massacre. This happened in different places,” he added in Filipino.

The police chief also pointed out that there were 12 others who were arrested, and not killed, during the operations.

“Itong mga 14 na ito, ito yung mga sinasabi nilang nanlaban (These 14 who were killed, these were those who fought back),” he said.

"I don't think police will fire if these people did not fight back," he said, stressing that if the intention was to kill, the 12 who were arrested would also have died.

Albayalde added that based on police intelligence reports, those who were killed “have previous participation in an alleged ambush” on police and an Army sergeant.

But Antonio "Ka Tonying" Flores, UMA chairperson, said the deaths were similar to what happened in Guihulngan and nearby places late last year when six farmers were killed "tokhang style" because they allegedly shot at police and military personnel.

"Tokhang" originally referred to a police operation to "knock" on alleged drug personalities' doors and "plead" with them to submit to the government's anti-drug campaign. It has since been used to refer to killings related to the so-called war on drugs.

The government has repeatedly said that the more than 5,000 "drug personalities" killed in operations forced law enforcement to kill them in self-defense.

Internal probe ongoing

The country's top cop also said that the PNP’s Internal Affairs Service is already looking into the incidents.

“While we assume regularity on all police operations, especially in this case that there were warrants to be served, IAS will always be there and conduct investigation,” the police chief said.

Albayalde said that they are expecting the IAS’ report on the incidents very soon.

He said that the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines stand ready if complaints would be filed against them.

 "We are ready to face investigation, the PNP, the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), including those involved in the investigation... to prove that it was a legitimate operation,” he added.

The Commission on Human Rights has already dispatched a team from its regional sub-office in Central Visayas to look into the deaths of the 14. — Kristine Joy Patag

KILLINGS NEGROS ORIENTAL OSCAR ALBAYALDE
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: April 10, 2019 - 2:53pm

Check here as we monitor updates on this issue.

April 10, 2019 - 2:53pm

Members of the National Fact-Finding and Solidarity Mission that looked into police operations that killed 14 people in Negros Oriental on March 30 will present the complete results and full report of their investigation at a press conference on Thursday.

They said a joint position will also be issued regarding the Palace's statement that the families of those who died should just file cases against police officers involved in the operations.

April 7, 2019 - 12:29pm

Karapatan slams a recent statement by presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo who said the 14 farmers in Negros Oriental were killed in "legitimate" police operations and not a massacre as human rights groups claimed.

"The facts as stated by witnesses and relatives of the farmers killed and arrested by State forces in Negros speak for themselves. Karapatan and those supporting the plight of the farmers do not manufacture hate and fear of the State forces - they are borne out of the actions of the State forces," Karapatan says.

"Thus, the callousness of Malacanang and the PNP in insisting on an unacceptable narrative on their legitimate police operations is but a stupendous, deliberate attempt to cover up the government’s crimes. Any brick that they throw on the victims, their families and those who document and make known their crimes ends up thrown on themselves."

The group calls on the public to join the national and global day of protest on April 10 to demand justice for the farmers killed in Negros Oriental.

April 4, 2019 - 8:33am

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, UMA, and Karapatan are launching on Thursday, April 4, a national fact-finding and solidarity mission to look into the killings of the 14 people killed in police operations in Negros Oriental last Saturday.

UMA media officer Gi Estrada says the groups will document the killings in Sta. Catalina, Manjuyod and Canlaon and get witnesses' statements.

The Palace and the Philippine National Police have said that those killed were suspected of participation in attacks on military and police personnel. They were allegedly killed while "fighting back" against police officers serving warrants before dawn last Saturday.

 

April 3, 2019 - 3:50pm

Samira Gutoc, a former assemblywoman for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, calls on government to stop labelling farmers and progressives as communist rebels without evidence.

"This red-tagging has got to end. Stop pointing at anyone as communists without sufficient proof! These tokhang-style killings should be investigated independently. These nanlaban narratives should be counterchecked," she says in a statement.

"Sa ating mga kapulisan, please stop from killing the farmers who put food on our table! These killings prove that the culture of impunity being allowed by our law enforcement agencies are worsening," she also says.

April 3, 2019 - 12:36pm

The Makabayan bloc of the House of Representatives has filed a resolution seeking hearings on police operations over the weekend that left 14 people dead in Negros Oriental.

The police Internal Affairs Service is already looking into the deaths, which the Philippine National Police and the Palace have said were justified because those who died allegedly "fought back" when search warrants were served on them before dawn on March 30. The government said the subjects of the operations were suspected of participation in attacks against the military and police.

The Commission on Human Rights is also looking into the killings but rights groups and farmers' groups have said a congressional hearing is needed to shed light on the deaths of the 14, among them a 67-year-old farmer.

The Makabayan bloc is not part of the either the majority nor the recognized minority bloc of the House and it is unlikely that hearings can actually be conducted.

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