Internal Affairs Service to investigate police shooting of 2 Albay activists

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Internal Affairs Service to investigate police shooting of 2 Albay activists
This 2019 photo by Google Street View shows the Banao Bridge bridge in Albay, where two activists spraying protest graffiti were shot by local police on Monday, July 26.
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MANILA, Philippines — Leadership of the Philippine National Police ordered an investigation into a shooting incident involving Albay policemen and two activists who were reportedly spray-painting protest slogans.

To recall, human rights group Defend Bicol said that Jemar Palero, 22, and Marlon Naperi, 38, were shot dead by Albay police on Monday morning at the Banao Bridge in Barangay Lower Binogsacan in Guinobatan after the two were found spraying protest graffiti on a wall.

"Duterte Ibagsak (Down with Duterte)," the protest would have read, but the two were shot before they were able to finish. 

Both were residents of Guinobatan, Albay. Palero is a member of the Albay Farmers’ Organization, while Naperi is with the human rights group Albay People’s Organization.

"Dissent may take on many forms, but to kill innocent unarmed civilians in the dead of the night for painting the people's call is purely fascist and brutal," Defend Bicol said, calling the shooting a "brazen attack on human rights." 

Official police reports repeated the usual "nanlaban" narrative used in the killings of progressives, claiming that the two were armed and fired on the cops, prompting the latter to retaliate.

Pilipino Star Ngayon: 2 aktibista sa Albay 'pinatay ng pulis' matapos gumawa ng SONA protest art

As he has in similar cases, Police Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, PNP chief, appealed to the public to let the investigation take its course before making conclusions on the incident until the final report and recommendation are done. 

“To dispel speculations and allegations about the deaths of the two alleged activists in Albay, I have instructed the Internal Affairs Service led by Inspector General Alfegar Triambulo to focus and expedite the ongoing investigation to clarify what exactly happened here,” he said in Filipino in a statement sent to reporters Wednesday.

He added that he ordered the Police Regional Office in Bicol to place the policemen involved under restrictive custody. 

"Our countrymen can count on a fair and in-depth investigation into this case so in the meantime, let's move forward with the ongoing investigation into the serious allegations about it," said Eleazar.

"We also call on those who witnessed or knew about the incident to cooperate with the investigators to clarify this case," the police general also said.

Duterte: I love Bicolanos

The killing came on the day of President Rodrigo Duterte's sixth and final State of the Nation Address. 

Elsewhere in Luzon, other activists were arrested and had their protest materials confiscated.

The Philippine National Police in the days leading up to the SONA promised to respect the right to freedom of assembly and to practice "maximum tolerance" when dealing with protesters. 

"The Sorsogon City in Bicol, inuna namin 'yan kasi mahal ko ang mga Bicolano (we put that first because I love the Bicolanos)," the president said in his SONA as he flaunted his administration's supposed accomplishments in the region. 

"The blood of 2 Albayanos drenched the Banao Bridge, contrary to his claim that he loves the Bicolano people," Defend Bicol said in response. 

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