MANILA Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Gen. Oscar Albayalde, on Tuesday ordered the relief of four police officials in the province of Negros Oriental from their posts to give way to the investigation on the operations which resulted in the death of 14 people and arrest of 12 others in Canlaon City and two other towns.
Relieved from their posts were Col. Raul Tacaca, Negros Oriental provincial police director; Lt. Colonel Patricio Degay, Canlaon City police chief; Lt. Kevin Roy Mamaradlo, Manjuyod municipal police chief; and Capt. Michael Rubia, Sta. Catalina police chief.
The relieved officers will be assigned at the Police Holding and Accounting Unit (PHAU) in Camp Crame.
I leave it to the Regional Director Director of PRO (Police Regional Office) 7, Police Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas to designate officer-in-charge in the vacated positions as temporary replacement, Albayalde told reporters in a press briefing on Tuesday afternoon.
I would like to emphasize that their relief is not a punitive measure for alleged actions or inactions rather it is an administrative relief to ensure that they will not be able to extent any influence in the ongoing investigation by the Internal Affair Service (IAS) and the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM), the PNP chief added.
Albayalde said the purpose of fact-finding investigation is to determine whether there were any lapses in the series of police operations carried out by the local police units involved and whether or not the rules prescribed in the Revised Police Operations were properly observed.
We appeal to the public to be circumspect in making hasty conclusions and passing judgement on the police. Let us not be fooled by leftist propaganda and fake news of a purported massacre. All deaths did not happen in one place but were the result of implementation of separate Search warrants that went awry when the subjects of the search operations put-up armed resistance, Albayalde stressed.
The country's top cop earlier stood firm and claimed these were legitimate operations covered by search warrants issued by the court.
Based on the report of the regional director there, these people have previous involvement with the rebels and they are being used. They claim they are mere farmers. Well, of course we know some of them are farmers in the morning but are NPAs (New People's Army) at night. It doesn't necessarily mean that just because they are farmers, they don't have links to the armed group," Albayalde told reporters.
He also cried foul over allegations that the operations are a massacre.
Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) defended the operations, saying these were completely aboveboard and covered by search warrants issued by the Negros Oriental Regional Trial Court.
Our law enforcers acted professionally and in accordance with the law during the conduct of police operations in Negros Oriental. They simply returned fire when the subject of the search warrants engaged them in a shootout, Interior Secretary Eduardo AAo said in a statement.
The DILG chief also dispelled allegations that there was a massacre, saying that this is a propaganda campaign of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and their communist front organizations to put the government in a bad light.
How can they say there was a massacre when some 12 other suspects were arrested during the operations? Halatang-halata na naman na pilit na sinisiraan ng mga makakaliwa ang pamahalaan at pumupostura na naman sila na kakampi ng mamamayan (It is really obvious that these leftists are trying to undermine the government and pretend to be an ally of the people), he says.
AAo also said the agency is ready to provide legal assistance to the PNP personnel who took part in said operations.
We stand by our police officers and we will provide them with the best legal defense to help them overcome whatever legal challenges that may arise as a result of several Negros Oriental operations, AAo said.
He said that the PNP is ready to face any investigation into the shootout, including those to be conducted by the Commission on Human Rights.
AAo likewise offered his condolences to the families of the 14 alleged communist rebels who were killed during the operations, noting that he will be the first to call out the police officers if they indeed committed lapses.
Hindi po ang pulis ang kontrabida dito. Ginagawa lang nila ang kanilang trabaho para sugpuin ang krimen at panatiliin ang kapayapaan sa ating komunidad. Mas gugustuhin ba natin na sila na nagtatanggol sa atin ang mamatay? (The police are not the bad guys here. They are just performing their duty which is to curb crime and maintain peace in the community. Do we really want those who are protecting us to die?), he stressed.
A total of 14 suspected communist rebels were killed while 12 were arrested in separate operations against loose firearms in Canlaon City and the towns of Manjuyod and Sta. Catalina over the weekend when they fired upon law enforcers who were serving the warrants.
Recovered from the suspects were rifle-fired grenades, fragmentation grenades, handguns, shotguns, various types of ammunition, and subversive documents. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency