MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte is awaiting the result of the investigation being conducted by the Department of Justice-led task force on extrajudicial killings into the death of nine activists during recent raids in Calabarzon, Malacañang said Monday.
In a virtual presser, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte still has to comment on the issue.
“He’s awaiting results of the investigation. He cannot comment on something not knowing what actually transpired factually,” he said in a virtual press briefing.
Roque noted that the President has declared to protect police and military officers who use force while performing their tasks in the line of duty, but will never tolerate abuses.
“He (Duterte) has told the police that he is to stand by them if they are in compliance and in the discharge of their official duties, meaning that the use of force is because there is a threat to their lives. Pero kung wala pong banta sa buhay nila at gumamit sila ng dahas, sila po’y malilitis at mapaparusahan (But if there’s no threat to their lives and they use force, they’ll be charged and punished),” he said.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, in the same virtual presser, assured that the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will be fully cooperative in the probes about the Calabarzon raids.
“I assure the people that there will be an impartial, fair, and thorough investigation in these incidents that happened recently in the Calabarzon area,” Guevarra said.
Last March 7, nine individuals died in simultaneous police operations in the provinces of Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite. Rights groups said they were mere activists.
Six died in Rizal, two in Batangas, and one in Cavite while six people were arrested, three each in Laguna and Rizal, police reports showed.
Rights groups condemned the killings, but the PNP insisted that these raids were legitimate, saying that security forces had search warrants issued for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Aside from the task force, the Commission on Human Rights is also conducting a separate probe into the incidents.
No reason to fear
Meanwhile, Roque also assured lawyers representing alleged members of communist groups that they have nothing to fear after the relief of Lt. Fernando Calabria Jr., the police intelligence chief of Calbayog, Samar, who asked a local court for a list of lawyers of alleged communists.
“Siguro po kung hindi sinibak iyong humingi ay dapat may dahilan nang matakot. Pero nakita po natin na hindi naman po kinunsinti ng gobyerno iyan, at dahil diyan po ay walang dahilan para matakot ang mga abogado (Perhaps if the police officer wasn’t fired, they have a reason to be scared. But you can see that the government does not tolerate that, and that’s the reason why our lawyers shouldn’t be afraid),” he said.
Guevarra also assured that the incident involving the Calbayog intelligence chief was an “isolated incident”.
“It was an isolated incident lang iyong nangyari sa Calbayog City. And in fact, mayroon na ngang admission ang PNP authority na rather improper iyong ginawa na iyon ng Chief of Police ng Calbayog City (It was an isolated incident. And in fact, the PNP authorities admitted that what happened in Calbayog City was improper), and appropriate administrative sanctions have been imposed,” he said. (PNA)
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