Senate releases report on Negros Oriental killings last year

LR Senators Honteveros, Drilon, Pimentel, Bato and Lacson at the Senate hearing

Negros Oriental – Following its hearing last August, the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chaired by Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, and the Committee on Justice and Human Rights of Senator Richard Gordon has recommended a deeper probe into the past killings of farmers, policemen and politicians in Negros island in mid-2019 which might involve some law enforcers an vigilante groups.

Report No. 33 very recently, of the Senate committee also included recommendations that the Philippine National Police Internal Affairs Services should investigate complaints and gather evidence for possible filing of administrative and criminal liabilities against police personnel and units involved in Oplan Sauron, who may have committed abuses or violations of laws and/or the Revised Police Operational Procedures.

The Armed forces too were asked to conduct internal investigations on military personnel if some of them were involved in Oplan Sauron for possible human rights lapses and or violations.

SERIES OF KILLINGS

The joint panels stressed that between October 2018 and July 2019, a series of killings and attempted killings took place in the two provinces, Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental, including the nine farmers, who were shot to death by unidentified armed men in Sagay City on Oct. 20, 2018.

It also pointed out that the Simultaneous Enhanced Managing of Police Operations, that was launched on Dec. 27, 2018, and its second version, the Oplan Sauraon, on March 30, 2019, have escalated during the eight-month period.

In the same official Senate report No. 33, the joint panels stressed that one important angle that must be ignored, but should likewise be pursued in the ongoing investigations, are the possible abuses that might have been committed by the members of the military and the police in implementing “all necessary measures to suppress any and all forms of lawless violence” in the affected provinces.

REPORT TO PRESIDENT

The Senate also asked the PNP and AFP to review, evaluate and report to the President the effectiveness of Oplan Sauron in the objective to suppress and end lawless violence in Negros Island.

Also among the recommendations in the report, that was signed by the 11 senators, was for authorities to identify the perpetrators of the killings of individuals named in the reported hit list of Kawsa Guihulnganon Batok Kumunista (KAGUBAK), an alleged anti-communist group, that was bared at a Senate probe on the spate of Negros killings on Aug. 27, 2019.

Included in the hit list was lawyer Anthony Trinidad of San Carlos City, Negros Occidental. He was gunned down on July 23, 2019 in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental.

Trinidad was among the 21 people killed in Negros Oriental in a span of 10 days, from July 18 to 28, 2019. Some of the victims were policemen, principal, and even a one-year-old boy.

The hearing was precipitated by Senate resolutions calling for a probe on the Negros killings filed by Senators Risa Hontiveros and Leila de Lima.

Finally the Senate joint committees recommended that additional forces of the AFP and PNP be deployed to secure the two Negros provinces, to better address the security needs of the people. (With reports from VDS and Marchel Espina.)