MANILA MalacaAang on Monday defended a joint military and police operations that resulted in the killing of 14 people and arrest of 12 others tagged as members of the New People's Army in Negros Oriental.
It's a legitimate police operation. The search warrants were issued by a competent court, and they were implementing that, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
Earlier, the Philippine National Police (PNP) claimed that the farmers resisted arrest and fought back despite the search warrants issued by local courts for possible illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Panelo defended the PNP after the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) announced that it would be conducting an investigation on what has been described as tokhang-style police operations.
He did not directly respond to whether Palace would support the CHR probe after some rights groups tagged the legitimate police operations as a massacre.
Fourteen of them fought with the law enforcers, and they were killed in the process. Twelve of them were arrested and are now doing the process, legal process, Panelo said.
Panelo also rejected critics saying that government is deliberately targeting farmers with supposed links to communists.
You know, that is the usual statement issued by those who are linked with the Communist Party of the Philippines, Panelo said.
He, however, said the people subject of a search warrant have been identified as suspects in certain ambushes, assassinations, assassination attempts which is why courts issued the search warrants.
It's police operation and backed up by documents. And the courts believed in them that's why they issued these warrants, he added.
Local police reported that a total of eight people were killed in Canlaon City, four in Manjuyod and two in Sta. Catalina town.
PNP chief, General Oscar Albayalde, however, said the PNP-Internal Affairs Service will conduct an investigation on the possible lapses of the policemen during the operation.
Albayalde said the PNP is ready to face investigation to show that these were legitimate operations.
PNP spokesperson Col. Bernard Banac said it is the duty of the PNP to enforce the law and maintain peace and order to ensure public safety and security against criminal and other lawless elements.
Despite this, some lawmakers and militant groups condemned the police operations which they described as a crime against farmers. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency