THE operations in Negros Oriental that resulted in the killing of 14 "hitmen" and supporters of the New People's Army (NPA) were legitimate and not a massacre, said the Philippine National Police (PNP) Monday, April 1.
“Hindi po ito nangyari sa iisang lugar. Hindi totoo na ito ay massacre. Ito ay nangyari sa mga iba't ibang lugar and remember there were also 12 people who were arrested. So meron pong hindi nanlaban at naaresto. Itong mga 14 ito ‘yung mga sinasabi nilang nanlaban. Hindi naman siguro magpapaputok ‘yung ating mga pulis kung hindi naman talaga nanlaban itong mga taong ito dahil kung talagang ang intensyon dyan ay talagang patayin lahat yan, then all of them probably including the 12,” said PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde in a press conference in Camp Crame.
He said, though, that while they assume the regularity of the operation, the PNP-Internal Affairs Service will conduct investigation on the possible lapses of the policemen.
A total of 14 persons -- eight from Canlaon City, four from the municipality of Manjuyod, and two in Sta. Catalina -- were killed, while 12 others were arrested during the service of 37 search warrants for alleged illegal possession of firearms.
READ: 14 rebels killed, 1 cop hurt
Police said the subjects of the warrants were hitmen or farmers who support or members of the NPA and were involved in the plotting of attacks against government forces.
But human rights groups said that the slain and arrested persons were farmers and not members of the NPA.
“They have intelligence information bago nila ginawa itong operation na ito na actually it's covered by an operational plan. Hindi ito basta-basta, this is covered by an operational plan coming from PRO-Central Visayas,” said Albayalde.
“Based doon sa report ng regional director, itong mga tao na inoperate nila, they have previous involvement at sila ay ginagamit din na mga leftists na armadong NPAs. Sinasabi nila na sila ay mga magsasaka lang. Well, of course, alam naman natin ‘yung halos sa mga NPAs mga magsasaka sila sa umaga pero NPA sa gabi yun ang sinasabi,” he added.
The Commission on Human Rights has started the investigation on the matter. (SunStar Philippines)