Bayan Muna threatens to sue cops, soldiers in ‘massacre’ of 14 farmers
MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna on Saturday threatened to file charges against the police officers and soldiers involved in what it called a “massacre” of 14 farmers, whom police said were killed in separate, legitimate operations in Negros Oriental.
“We warn the police that we will pursue justice so that the police involved will suffer the fate of Gen. Jovito Palparan who is now languishing in prison. We demand that the PNP [Philippine National Police] and AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) release the names of all those involved so that we can file criminal cases against them,” Neri Colmenares, Bayan Muna chairman and senatorial candidate, said in a statement.
“This is beyond words and the height of impunity of state forces. Justice must be served,” he said.
Colmenares said he expects the PNP to allege that the farmers fought back against authorities, which he said is “absurd because they raided different barangays in different municipalities at 12 midnight when the victims were asleep and suddenly everyone simultaneously and conveniently fought back.”
In an interview with INQUIRER.net, Col. Raul Tacaca, director of the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office, denied there was any irregularity in the operations.
He said the 14 fatalities — eight in Canlaon City, four in the municipality of Manjuyod, and two in Catalina City — were being arrested for illegal possession of firearms when they opened fire at the police on Saturday.
“Legal po ‘yung ginawa namin at hindi po kami basta pumasok sa bahay nila,” Tacaca said. “We just performed our duty as police officers.”
He said the police officers were also armed with arrest warrants.
According to Tacaca, those killed were suspected to be hitmen and supporters of the New People’s Army and were involved in several assassination plots against members of the police and the military.
But according to Colmenares, government forces were only killing farmers whom they suspected of being rebels.
“This is Oplan Tokhang now being done to farmers,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said they would “not take this sitting down” and they would “seek justice for the victims and file charges against the policemen and their superiors who perpetrated this massacre.” /atm