Sinas should be also held accountable for rights violations in Negros â group
This undated photo shows Police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office.
The Freeman, file

Sinas should be also held accountable for rights violations in Negros — group

(Philstar.com) - May 20, 2020 - 1:09pm

MANILA, Philippines — Police Major General Debold Sinas should have been investigated and relieved from his post long before violating quarantine protocols for dozens of human rights violations committed during his stint as Central Visayas police chief, a rights organization said Wednesday.

Sinas, chief of the National Capital Region Police Office, is facing criminal and administrative cases filed by the Philippine National Police for violating quarantine rules during his birthday celebration.

Despite fierce criticisms and calls for his resignation, Sinas will remain as Metro Manila’s top cop, President Rodrigo Duterte said. The chief executive argued it was not the police official’s fault that he was serenaded by his subordinates during his birthday.

Police General Archie Gamboa, PNP chief, earlier said Sinas will retain his position because he is “hard to replace.”

Human rights group Karapatan said that shielding Sinas from criticisms and keeping him as NCRPO chief do not only promote impunity but also reveal how the government is “coddling perpetrators of human rights violations.”

“There is no reason to spare Sinas from condemnation. With the trail of killings, illegal arrest and detention, and other criminal acts committed in the course of the implementation of the local synchronized enhanced management of police operations in Negros, which were committed under his purview, he is in no way ‘good and honest,’” Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, said.

“The most reasonable thing that the government should do is to relieve him from his post and to hold him accountable, along with other perpetrators of human rights violations,” she added.

The rights group said “state terrorism has tormented the Negrenses” when Sinas took the helm as the police director of Central Visayas in July 2018. He was named Metro Manila’s top cop in October 2019.

According to CHR Central Visayas in August last year, there were 22 killings in Negros Oriental alone between June 27 and July 28. Critics said the killings and political persecution of peasants and activists in the area could 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.”

“We would like to remind the regime that throughout the killings and other forms of human rights violations in Negros, no due process, including an independent investigation, had been done and until now, the victims and their families are still crying for justice,” Palabay said. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: August 6, 2019 - 1:07pm

At least 21 people have been shot dead in Negros Oriental from July 18 to 27, with a city councilor, a former municipal mayor, four police officers, a village chief and a lawyer among the victims.

The Philippine National Police has launched pursuit operations for New People’s Army rebels and other suspects in the killings.

The PNP has also deployed "more than 300 Special Action Force troops to augment local police units in anti-criminality and internal security operations" on Negros Island.

The Philippine News Agency reported in June that there are five Army battalions on the island, with Maj. Gen. Dinoh Dolina of the 3rd Infantry Division saying "we will saturate Negros Island with more troops to fill up every inch of the island."

Part of the operations against communist rebels on the island was "Oplan Sauron 2.0," which PNA said is "an internal security operation plan against personalities connected to the Communist Party of the Philippines, NPA, National Democratic Front."

August 6, 2019 - 1:07pm

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo says that President Rodrigo Duterte has ruled out declaring martial law in Negros.

There must be a state of rebellion, Panelo adds.

August 5, 2019 - 9:30am

The Communist Party of the Philippines says President Rodrigo Duterte's threat to give communist rebels "what they deserve" is code for "killings and torture."

The Palace has clarified that Duterte's directive only applies "during shootouts, not during the capture or arrest."

"[T]he New People's Army is not shaken by Duterte's threats. The NPA can defend itself with arms. But unarmed peasants, lawyers, human rights defenders, church people, civilians can't. The NPA must fight back for them," the communist party said.

"The CPP calls on NPA in Negros and across the country to intensify tactical offensives against units of the [Armed Forces of the Philippines], [Philippine National Police] and [Davao Death Squad] in order to punish those responsible for the killings of civilians," the CPP also says.

The Davao Death Squad is a group that allegedly kills suspected criminals in Davao City.

August 2, 2019 - 11:24am

The Commission on Human Rights stresses the need for an objective investigation into the killings in Negros Oriental amid heated rhetoric from the government and from communist rebels who have been pointing fingers at each other over the deaths of more than 20 people in separate incidents.

"Investigators from CHR coming both from its central and regional offices have been deployed to Negros to investigate these killings, involving police officers, a lawyer, educators, and even a child. Every motive is being pursued, especially that allegations of the government and communist rebels being accountable for the executions are being floated," the commission says in a press statement.

"In the end, the final determination of the truth behind these cases can be ferreted out through an objective investigation. We then ask the PNP to allow cooperation with CHR 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 this senseless killings," it also says.

August 1, 2019 - 8:18am

Twenty-six members of the House of Representatives are seeking an inquiry into the spate of killings in Negros Oriental.

Bacolod City-based alternative news organization Visayas Today reports the resolution has already been filed.

The resolution comes days after lawmakers with the Makabayan bloc filed a similar calling for an investigation into the human rights situation in the province, where at least 20 have been killed since late July.

The provincial police director for Negros Oriental has been relieved from duty over the killings, whose victims include a city councilor, a former municipal mayor, four police officers, a village chief and a lawyer.

The PNP has also deployed around 300 Special Action Force commandos to Negros Island, which Human Rights Watch notes "has a long history of violence stemming from festering issues of land rights, poverty, and injustice."

July 31, 2019 - 3:03pm

Gen. Oscar Albayalde, Philippine National Police chief, sacks Col. Raul Tacaca as Negros Oriental police chief following spate of killings in the province, The STAR reports.

Relief means Tacaca is no longer provincial police director but does not mean he has been removed from the police force. 

According to a Human Rights Watch dispatch on the situation on Negros, the island "has a long history of violence stemming from festering issues of land rights, poverty, and injustice."

"Peasant and farmer groups have campaigned for land reform over the island’s vast sugar plantations amidst fighting between communist insurgents and government forces," HRW also says, pointing out that  "both sides have been implicated in countless human rights abuses."

HRW says attacks in Negros Oriental "increased dramatically" after four police officers were killed in Ayungon town on July. The PNP said the officers, members of a police intelligence unit, had been tortured and killed.

The New People's Army admits ambushing the police officers but the communist rebels have stressed torture is forbidden in their ranks.

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