CHR laments PNP’s refusal to share information on Negros killings

CHR laments PNP�s refusal to share information on Negros killings
This screengrab shows the map of Negros Oriental province.
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MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights lamented the Philippine National Police’s refusal to give the agency documents about the recent string of shooting incidents in the Negros island.

During a Senate panel inquiry into the spate of killings in the recent months, CHR Central Visayas chief Arvin Odron said PNP’s refusal to share case information to the agency affects their investigation.

“We cannot proceed with our investigation because even if our investigation focuses on the rights of police being violated, still the PNP refuses to give us documents,” Odron said, referring to the ambush of four cops in Ayungon, Negros Oriental last July 18.

Odron said CHR’s investigation depends on media reports because the agency’s Central Visayas office only has eight investigators.

Director Elmo Sarona, PNP Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management chief, said commanders on the ground may withhold documents from CHR while an investigation is pending.

“Basically, we have protocols that we follow. Reliance on the disposition of the commander on the ground is very much considered especially if the matter is still under investigation,” Sarona said.

He added: “They have the right to withhold information especially if the matter of the information is prejudicial to the investigation they are conducting and in case, the matter has already been filed in the prosecutor’s office.”

Early in August, CHR spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia called on the PNP to allow cooperation with rights investigators on the ground, specifically for requests for cases’ information, “so we can both serve justice to the families and loved ones left behind due to these senseless killings.”

According to CHR Central Visayas, there have been 22 killings in Negros Oriental from June 27 to July 28.

Rights groups said at least 87 people have been killed in the Negros island since 2017.

Critics said the killings and political persecution of peasants and activists in the area can be attributed to the “Oplan Sauron,” the implementing program in Negros of Duterte’s Memorandum Order 32. MO 32 ordered the deployment of additional police and military forces to Samar, Negros provinces and the Bicol region to “suppress lawless violence and acts of terror.”

Duterte ruled out declaring martial law in Negros Oriental after floating he would do something “drastic” to deal with the spate of killings in Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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