PNP says to probe Batangas, Quezon police units over 'NinoyNPA' posts

PNP says to probe Batangas, Quezon police units over 'NinoyNPA' posts
This screen capture shows a since-deleted tweet by the Batangas Maritime Police Station using the hashtags 'NinoyNotAHero' and 'NinoyNPA'.

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 5, 44 p.m.) — Members of the maritime police in Batangas and Quezon may find themselves in hot water as the Philippine National Police said it would investigate posts accusing former Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. of being a member of the New People's Army.

The Batangas Maritime Police Station and Quezon Maritime Police Station on Saturday posted anti-communist messages on their social media accounts and used the hashtags "NinoyNotAHero" and "NinoyNPA" to promote them. The posts were made a day before Ninoy Aquino Day, an official holiday to commemorate Aquino's assassination on August 21, 1983.

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"The PNP does not engage in name calling that can malign any person's reputation. We value respect for human dignity," Police Brig. Gen. Roderick Alba, chief of the PNP's Public Information Office, said in a message to reporters.

"The posts had been taken down and are now being investigated to determine those responsible for these. If anyone in the organization is found accountable, appropriate disciplinary actions will be imposed," he also said.

Asked earlier Sunday if the posts of the provincial maritime police units reflect the sentiments of the PNP as an organization, Alba said that the view that "Ninoy, if it referred to former Sen. Benigno 'Ninoy' Aquino, was not a hero and that he was actually an NPA rebel" is not an official position of the national police service.

A hero in the struggle against dictatorship

Renato Reyes, secretary-general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, called the PNP's accusation against the murdered senator "utterly appalling as it desperately tries to discredit Aquino and his heroic sacrifice."

"Ninoy was not a communist nor an NPA fighter, however, there were those [who fought the Marcos dictatorship] who were," Reyes — the government has also accused him and Bayan of communist links — said in a tweet.

"You saw them depicted in movies, in literature. There were those who joined the underground and the armed struggle. They are not called 'terrorists'. They are heroes in the struggle against dictatorship. Their names are inscribed at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani."

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Philippine National Police units have, since the Duterte administration, often used social media accounts to accuse people and organizations of links to the communist rebellion. The PNP has maintained that this is not official policy and that officers are bound by the agency's social media guidelines. — with a report from Franco Luna

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