THE Philippine National Police (PNP) has ensured assistance to the 17 policemen who were charged of murder by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) over the conduct of police operation in Batangas, which resulted in the killing of a couple.
PNP chief Dionardo Carlos said the PNP will extend all possible legal assistance to the 17 operatives of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), reiterating that the operation they conducted that resulted in the killing of Ariel and Ana Mariz Evangelista was legitimate.
“This is among the occupational risks faced by police personnel arising from service-related circumstances and regular performance of duty. Our personnel deserve to avail of all legal remedies provided by law,” he said.
“At any rate, the PNP respects the legal action of NBI in bringing the case up for prosecution before the DOJ (Department of Justice)...This will allow the respondents the opportunity to face their accusers and present their side in the best interest of due process,” he added.
On Friday, the NBI said they filed murder charges against the cops who took part in the service of search warrant over illegal possession of firearms against the couple in their residence in Nasugbu, Batangas on March 7, 2021.
The police earlier claimed the couple resisted arrest and engaged them in a gun fight, which prompted them to fight back and kill them.
The operation was part of simultaneous service of search warrants in the region in line with the PNP’s campaign against the proliferation of illegal firearms and weapons.
At least seven other people, who were also members of activist groups along with the couple, were killed during the said evening.
Various firearms and other illegal weapons were seized during the said operations.
Human rights groups, however, rejected the police claim, saying that the operations were connected to the pronouncement made by President Rodrigo Duterte on March 5 for the police and military to “kill” communist rebels and “ignore human rights.”
Carlos said the PNP does not see the need for the PNP to conduct its own investigation of the alleged murders parallel to that of NBI’s, but will look into the administrative liability of personnel concerned as a matter of policy.
He also ensured that all concerned personnel are accounted for and available to face further investigation.
“The PNP has its own internal investigation machinery, the Internal Affairs Service. The case stemmed from an operation; it is well within the jurisdiction of IAS,” he said.
“We are confident that this indictment is not enough to dampen the resolve of the CIDG or any other PNP unit in pursuing the objectives of the PNP against terrorism and criminality,” Carlos added.