Senator Grace Poe the country’s No. 1 senator of 2016, has called on the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation in the deaths of 14 farmers who were killed in raids at Manjuyod, Santa Catalina and Canlaon City on March 30.
Senator Poe who won with a big margin in Negros Oriental in 2016 asked for an impartial report about the incident. Poe was on a campaign swing through Negros major towns and cities last week as she was hosted by Gov Roel Degamo and City Mayor Felipe Remollo. (see photo)
The lady re-electionist senator noted that since those involved in the killings are policemen, the investigation should be handled by the NBI to ensure the credibility of the findings. She is also open to a Senate hearing should that be warranted.
“Senator Panfilo Lacson, being the Chairman of the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, may initiate an investigation,” Poe said.
To stem the rising outrage, the PNP top brass relieved Negros Oriental Police Provincial Director Raul Tacaca, Canlaon City Police chief Patricio Degoy, Manjuyod Police chief Roy Mamaradlo, and Sta. Catalina Police chief Michael Rubia, according to reports.
Since Tacaca is administratively relieved, the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office is currently under the supervision of Lt. Col Ali Baron and Lt. Col. George Badon.
For the militants, the killing was branded as a mass execution of innocent civilians. For the police, it was a legitimate police operation which ended with a shootout with suspected holders of illegal firearms, who were also suspected recruits to the rebel movement and the NPA.
Independent probers also said that some of the victims families were robbed by the raiding police teams who later allegedly shot the suspects’ point blank, some pleading for their lives.
There is now bad blood between the police and the rebels of the north Negros which started with the ambush-slay of six police officers way back two years ago.
Since then there had been endless cases of extrajudicial killings, some call it vendetta after vendetta. The hapless civilians became indirect victims as they were caught in the crossfire.
PDI reporter Carla Gomez reported last April 7 that:
The 14 farmers who were killed in joint police and military operations in two towns and a city in Negros Oriental province on March 30 were also robbed of cash and valuables, according to the victims’ relatives.
The allegations by the kin of at least two of the slain farmers came even as Malacañang stood behind Gen. Oscar Albayalde, the Philippine National Police chief, and asked the people not to be swayed by “communist propaganda.”
Argie Acabal, son of Valentin Acabal, barangay chair of Candabong in Manjuyod town, said policemen took P37,000 cash when they barged into their house and killed his father.