MALACAÑANG has slammed several groups calling for the resignation of Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Police General Oscar Albayalde over the recent police operations in Negros Oriental which resulted in the deaths of 14 farmers suspected as communist rebels.
“There is absolutely no basis in fact and in law for the PNP Chief, General Oscar Albayalde, to resign,” Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
The Palace official emphasized that the operations that led to the killings were legitimate.
“We reiterate that the incident in Negros Oriental arose from a legitimate police operation,” Panelo said.
“Authorities were implementing search warrants that were duly issued by competent courts. In separate police operations, fourteen residents died when they fought with the law enforcers who were just implementing the search orders of the said local courts,” he said.
Police operations in the said province last March have resulted in the deaths of 14 men, who the Kabataan party-list claimed were local farmers and not outlaws.
Panelo, however, said Karapatan and other groups are using the incident to “sow hate and spread fear towards our duly constituted authorities.”
“As the PNP explained, this is not a case of massacre given the fact that those who surrendered without forceful resistance were lawfully apprehended unharmed following the discovery of illegal items pursuant to the court sanctioned search. In fact, a policeman was wounded which goes to show that there were indeed some who used violent resistance when authorities were conducting the search,” he said.
“General Albayalde has even acted objectively by relieving administratively ranking officers from their posts just to pave the way for a thorough and impartial investigation free from any possible undue influence and to determine whether lapses were made during the conduct of these operations,” he added.
Albayalde on Tuesday ordered the relief of Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office director Colonel Raul Tacaca, chiefs of police Lieutenant Colonel Patricio Degay (Canlaon City Police Station), Lieutenant Kevin Roy Mamaradlo (Manjuyod Municipal Policed Station) and Captain Michael Rubia (Sta. Catalina Municipal Police Station) as the probe into the incidents started.
Amid the relief, Albayalde asserted that the anti-criminality operations in Negros Occidental that resulted in several deaths were legitimate.
Panelo said the government welcomes any investigation into the matter.
“In the meantime, we urge the public not to be swayed by leftist propaganda, especially those stemming from groups linked with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army, designed to stigmatize each and every operation of our law enforcers intended to protect the general welfare and safety of the Filipino people,” Panelo said.
The Commission on Human Rights has started an investigation into the police anti-crime operations.
It said it has identified common patterns in the deaths of the 14 individuals, with most of the victims moved out of sight of their relatives during the arrest. The investigators also noticed some had gunshot wounds in the head.