Albayalde: Negros Oriental operation ‘very far from tokhang’
MANILA, Philippines — The joint police and military operations that killed 14 people in Negros Oriental is “very far from a tokhang operation,” Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Oscar Albayalde said Tuesday.
In a press briefing, Albayalde pointed out that the action against loose firearms in the province carried out by policemen and soldiers was covered by a search warrant.
“Tokhang” refers to the visit of police officers at residences of suspected drug personalities to persuade them to stop their illegal vices and activities. It is also a colloquial term that has been associated with alleged unexplained killing of drug suspects, who purportedly resisted arrest during anti-drug operations.
“It’s very far from a ‘tokhang’ operation. It’s because it was covered by a search warrant,” Albayalde explained when asked for his reaction amid reports that relatives of the suspects cry “tokhang” for the death of their kin. The killed suspects were said to be farmers.
According to Albayalde, the arresting officers did not intend to kill the suspects since they have also arrested twelve other individuals in the series of operations against loose firearms in Canlaon City as well as municipalities of Manjuyod and Sta. Catalina last Saturday, March 30.
“There were 12 na naaresto (who were arrested) because they did not put up a fight,” he said, citing that the 14, who are suspected hit men and supporters of the New People’s Army, were only killed for allegedly firing at authorities.
The PNP chief also dismissed allegations police officers and soldiers in the operation planted evidence in the houses of those who were arrested.
“That’s a very common alibi, and I think that’s flimsy also, kasi very common na nga ‘yung alibi na iyan eh even doon sa mga nahuhuli natin sa drugs (because that alibi is very common even to those arrested over drugs),” he said.
Albayalde then urged the public not to be “fooled by leftist propaganda and fake news of a purported massacre.”
“All deaths did not happen in one place, but were the result of implementation of separate Search Warrants that went awry when the subjects of the search operations put up armed resistance,” he said.
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