Karapatan recommends filing of charges vs cops, soldiers in Negros 14 killings, arrests

In a press conference in Quezon City, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay called for the indictment and prosecution of police and military operatives responsible for the killings, frustrated killings, illegal arrest and detention, and other criminal acts committed in the course of their implementation of the local synchronized enhanced management of police operations (SEMPO) on March 30, 2019. 
In the full report of the recently held National Fact-finding and Solidarity Mission led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura and Karapatan in Negros Oriental, they identified some of those known responsible and involved in the said violations as follows: Regional Director of Police Regional Office (PRO)-7 PSupt. Debold M. Sinas, Negros Oriental Police Chief Colonel Raul Tacaca, Canlaon City Police Chief Lieutenant Colonel Patricio Degay, Manjuyod Police Chief Lieutenant Roy Mamaradlo, Santa Catalina Police Chief Captain Michael Rubia, the 94th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, Judge Soliver C. Peras of Branch 10 of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, PNP Spokesperson Bernard Banac and PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde. 

The NFSM also recommended “the identification of government agencies and officials who had prior knowledge of or involvement in the operation, and the public release of documents relevant to the operation, including all search warrants used during the operation, the applications for these search warrants, and all reports filed by personnel of the PNP, AFP, and other government agencies in relation to the operation.” 

“Those in government who justify the said violations as results of ‘legitimate operations’ have their twisted definition of what is right and wrong. As in numerous cases in the sham drug war and in many other killings of activists, such alibis are proven wrong by the victims and witnesses of such dastardly crimes,” Palabay said. 

Karapatan said that “the government should refrain from intimidating, coercing, threatening and discouraging the witnesses and relatives of the victims from stating their testimonies and the real accounts on what happened on March 30, 2019.”

“Impunity has thrived in the Philippines for the longest time because of the shameless cover-up of State forces and their tactic of threatening those who expose their violations. Impunity is on overdrive under the Duterte regime. If charges are to be filed against the police and military officials responsible for the killings and arrests in Negros Oriental, the insidious and overt ways of cover-up should stop,” Palabay added. 

Karapatan said the “conducive environment for an independent investigation on and the prosecution of those accountable for the crimes may only be possible when police and military elements are pulled out from the communities.” 

“In that way, witnesses and relatives of victims can be partially safe from fear of reprisal. Karapatan also reiterates its call for the scrapping of Oplan Kapayapaan and all the anti-insurgency programs including the Executive Order 70 establishing a whole-of-nation approach in ending local insurgency and Memorandum Order 32 placing Negros Island, Bicol, and Samar, under the "state of emergency", which have spawned and worsened the human rights violations that have been documented,” Palabay said. 

Karapatan will submit the full report of the NFSM to the Commission on Human Rights and other relevant and independent government agencies and intergovernmental bodies. 

*Copies of the full report of the National Fact-finding and Solidarity Mission are available upon request.