Negros Oriental police ops not massacre —Albayalde
The Philippine National Police on Monday insisted that the police operations in Negros Oriental, which led to the killings of 14 suspected criminals, were not massacres.
At a press briefing, PNP chief Police General Oscar Albayalde said the police operations were legitimate as those were all covered by search warrants.
"Itong mga operations na ito are all covered by search warrants. They have 36 search warrants in different parts of Negros Oriental. Hindi po ito nangyari sa iisang lugar. Hindi totoong ito ay massacre. Ito ay nangyari sa iba't-ibang lugar. Hindi ito sa iisang lugar na 14 na katao...," Albayalde clarified.
The PNP chief also noted that 12 others have been arrested during the police operations while one policeman was injured. Albayalde claimed that those killed during the operations had fought back.
"Meron naman pong hindi nanglaban at naaresto. Itong 14 na ito, ito 'yung sinasabi nilang nanlaban... Hindi naman siguro magpapaputok 'yung ating mga pulis kung hindi nanlaban itong mga tao na 'to," Albayalde said.
"Kung lahat 'yan ang intention ay talagang patayin lahat 'yan, definitely all of them probably, including the 12. But then may 12 na arrested...," he said.
Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office head Colonel Raul Tacaca earlier bared that eight of the individuals were killed in Canlaon City, four in Manjuyod town and two in Sta. Catalina town during police operations against criminality over the weekend.
Police operatives proceeded to their respective targets but the suspects allegedly shot it out with authorities trying to serve the search warrants.
The Kabataan party-list has claimed that most of those killed were farmers and not outlaws.
The PNP chief said there were reports that some of those killed in the incident had involvement in previous ambush incidents against security forces.
"Wala silang sinasabing farmers. Ang sinasabi nila ay 'yung iba sa kanila they have previous participations doon sa alleged ambush ng mga pulis at Master Sergeant yata ng Philippine Army," Albayalde said.
He also said the PNP Internal Affairs Service (PNP-IAS) has conducted a motu propio investigation into the incidents.
"The IAS always conducts a motu propio investigation naman sa mga ganyang operation. We expect results of IAS investigation very soon especially sa mga ganyang operations," Albayalde said.
In a separate phone interview on GMA News TV's Balitanghali, the chief of the Negros Oriental police noted that based on intelligence reports, the suspected criminals have links to the outlawed New People's Army.
"Matagal na po nating... nagkakaroon na po ng pagsubaybay, surveillance po sa mga tao na ito. Lahat po ng information na nakuha natin, nagkaroon po ng validation and another validation hanggang sa nakabuo po tayo ng mga documents. 'Yun po ang ipinresent natin para makapag-ano ng search warrant," said Police Colonel Raul Tacaca.
Asked for reaction about groups that plan to file cases against those involved in the police operations, Albayalde said: "We are ready to face investigation, the PNP, the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines), including those involved in the investigation... para mapakita na talagang legit 'yung operation na 'yan."
The Commission on Human Rights said it will conduct its own investigation into the incident.
The College Editors Guild of the Philippines condemned the killings and called them outright violation of human rights. —KG/RSJ, GMA News