Karapatan condemns PNP’s harassment vs Malayao’s sister, supporters

“For the nth time, the Philippine National Police is once again deflecting accountability on the killing of peace consultant Randy Malayao. Instead of working swiftly to resolve this case given the sketch and the CCTV footage, the police slanders Malayao and files absurd charges against his sister, lawyer Atty. Edu Balgos and his wife, Rina Balgos. The Balgoses assisted Malayao’s family in claiming his belongings. The police officers yielded precisely because it is within the right of Malayao’s family to obtain possession of his personal effects. The police knew they were not in any position to withhold these items,”  said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay on recent statements of the PNP on Malayao’s case.

On the eve of Malayao’s funeral, on February 6, the PNP regional office in Cagayan Valley released a statement on the complaint filed by relieved police chief of Aritao station, PC/Insp. Geovanni Cejes, of obstruction of justice, grave threats and coercion against the Balgoses and Randy’s sister Perla Malayao-Upano. The same statement also referred to Malayao as a New People’s Army Commander, instead of a peace consultant of the National Democratic Front.

Here are among the facts that we have gathered to shed light on the PNP’s false claims:

1. Atty. Edu Balgos is affiliated with the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), while his wife, Rina Balgos, is with Bayan Muna. According to our regional office in Karapatan – Cagayan Valley, the family of Malayao asked for the assistance of Atty. Edu Balgos and Rina Balgos after the police refused to surrender the victim’s belongings.

2. The belongings of Randy Malayao are immaterial to the crime, which is murder. Thus, the police’s claims that they should have custody of his belongings, without a court order, is ridiculous. They have the CCTV footage and a rough sketch, so they should immediately get started running after Randy’s killers, not his sister and those who help Randy’s family. 

3. Randy Malayao is publicly known peace advocate and consultant in the peace process. The fact that the PNP is asserting otherwise proves it is knowingly peddling a lie to muddle the issue.

The Karapatan Secretary General observed that the same modus operandi was used in the PNP’s handling of the Sagay 9 massacre case. Palabay explained that just like the Sagay 9 massacre, the regional police chose to run after the lawyer assisting the victims. Weeks later, one of the victims’ lawyers, Atty. Benjamin Ramos, was also gunned down. 

“Seemingly, the PNP has unilaterally made its verdict, and are choosing to gloss over evidence that directly points to the killers. Instead, they are obsessing on gossip about Malayao and on gaining access to his belongings. Despite the PNP’s avid paparazzi stint to slander Malayao, we know who has the real intent and stark record in killing peace advocates and rights defenders,” she further stated.  

Palabay added: “It is ironic that the police accuse others of possibly tampering with evidence, when the police have done so incessantly. The PNP has a long tradition of planting, compromising, contaminating and manufacturing evidence to fit their fictional inventions.”

Malayao is set to be buried today, February 7. Families, friends, colleagues, and fellow advocates are currently holding a funeral march for Malayao.

“Even as Randy was set to be buried, posters bearing the same idiotic line peddled by the police was scattered near his ancestral home on the evening of February 6. We abhor the lack of decency towards Randy Malayao and his grieving family and colleagues. We likewise echo the call for justice and accountability on the killing of Randy Malayao and all victims of political killings under the Duterte regime,” Palabay concluded.

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, +639173162831 

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580