Members of Anakpawis and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, meanwhile, trooped to the PNP headquarters at Camp Crame on Tuesday to denounce the killings.
House probe into bloody Negros Oriental police operation sought
Gaea Katreena Cabico ( - April 3, 2019 - 2:44pm

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives’ Makabayan bloc asked the lower chamber to conduct an investigation into the deaths of 14 people in police operations across Negros Oriental over the weekend.

The bloc, consisting of seven party-list lawmakers, filed House Resolution 2533 on Wednesday, urging the committee on human rights to conduct an inquiry into the separate police operations in Canlaon City and towns of Manjuyod and Sta. Catalina that resulted in deaths of farmers and a “habal-habal” driver.

“The killings in Negros Oriental are crimes against humanity, targeted assassinations of leaders and members of local peasant organizations perpetrated by the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the guise of anti-criminality operations,” the legislators said in a statement.

They claimed the intentions of the operations are “to violently repress organizations fighting for land and livelihood, sow terror in their communities and deprive the Makabayan bloc of votes in the upcoming elections.”

The Makabayan lawmakers also demanded the immediate release of the 12 arrested peasants and activists through House Resolution 2534.

Oplan Sauron

Makabayan also filed Resolution 2535, aiming to scrap “Oplan Sauron,” which the lawmakers said “[causes] mass killings and political persecution of peasants and activists since December 2018 to March 2019.”

The Freeman reported that the first “Oplan Sauron” was launched on December 27 to 28 last year in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental. Six suspected members of the Special Partisan Unit died and 24 believed to be members of the New People’s Army were arrested through search warrants.

The lawmakers filed the resolutions amid the statements of Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde and presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo that the operations were aboveboard as cops were serving court-issued warrants. They said those who were killed allegedly “fought back” when search warrants were served to them before dawn on March 30.

The government also said the subjects of the operations were suspected of participating in attacks against the military and police.

But witnesses’ accounts and rights groups asserted that the 14 killed were farmers and a “habal-habal” driver who did not have enough money to buy guns.

The lawmakers belonging to the Makabayan bloc are: Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro (ACT Teachers), Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas (Gabriela), Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna), Ariel Casilao (Anakpawis) and Sarah Elago (Kabataan).

Amnesty to Philippine authorities: Respect laws, standards on law enforcement

Amnesty International called on Philippine security forces to heed laws and standards on policing and law enforcement as it stressed the need for an immediate and effective investigation into the separate police operations across the province.

“If sufficient evidence indicating extrajudicial executions is found, any officers reasonably suspected of criminal responsibility, including those with command responsibility, should be prosecuted in fair proceedings,” Amnesty International said in a statement Wednesday night.

It added: “We also urge the government to reiterate to members of its security forces the need for full respect for international and domestic laws and standards on policing, law enforcement, and the use of force and firearms.”

The rights watchdog also called on the government to respect the rights of those arrested and currently detained as well as their right to be informed of the charges against them, their entitlement to trial and their right to compensation of their arrest or detention is found unlawful.

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