PNP: Slain activists were NPA members

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    THE PNP yesterday dared its critics to charge cops involved in simultaneous operations in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas and Rizal that left nine activists dead and the arrest of six more.

    “Any kind speculation must be supported by evidence in so far as that particular operation is concerned. They can file an action if necessary. We have courts to accommodate them, we have a justice system,” PNP spokesman Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana said.

    Usana also said the slain activists were members of the New People’s Army.

    “They are indeed NPA members. Hiding behind the facade of being activists,” Usana said while stressing the legitimacy of the 24 raids for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

    Vice President Leni Robredo has called for an impartial investigation on the incident that she said was a “massacre” while critics have dubbed it “Bloody Sunday.”

    Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, however, said: “There is sufficient evidence that the victims were members of cause-oriented groups carrying out legitimate dissent.”

    Guevarra said the DOJ will endorse to the AO35 Task Force the investigation on the deaths of the activists. The task force was created under Administrative Order No.35 issued in 2013 to investigate extrajudicial and politically motivated killings as well as human rights violations in the country.

    The members of the task force are the DOJ as the lead agency, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Armed Forces of the Philippines, PNP, and the National Bureau of Investigation.

    Malacañang, meanwhile, told an international body to give the Philippines and the DOJ a chance to do its work, investigate the bloody police raids that resulted in the death of nine activists, and eventually carry out justice, where applicable.

    Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement as he reiterated that impunity has no place under the Duterte administration amid the United Nations Human Rights Council’s condemning of the death of the nine activists.

    He said the DOJ is already investigating the incident and vowed to hasten the process and file appropriate cases when possible.

    Roque said the fate of Southern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade as spokesman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) will be decided by the Department of National Defense and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenana.

    A senate panel that wants Parlade removed from his post said his designation as spokesman violates Article 16, Sec. 5 (4) of the 1987 Constitution, that says “No member of the Armed Forces in the active service shall, at any time, be appointed or designated in any capacity to a civilian position in the government, including the government owned or controlled corporations or any of their subsidiaries.”

    Sen. Richard Gordon called on the PNP to speed up its investigation on the killings to allay fears of a whitewash.

    Gordon said aside from the speedy probe, he also expects the PNP to come up with fair and just results. – With Ashzel Hachero, Jocelyn Montemayor and Raymond Africa