Kin of slain NDFP consultants seek CHR probe | Inquirer News
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Kin of slain NDFP consultants seek CHR probe

/ 04:30 AM December 02, 2020

The family of slain peace consultants Eugenia Magpantay and Agaton Topacio sought an independent probe by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) as it cast doubt over police claims that the elderly couple resisted arrest and fought it out with authorities.

Rights group Karapatan was also looking into the whereabouts of the couple’s helper who, according to another source, went missing at the time of the police operation on Nov. 25 in Angono town, Rizal province.

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The source, who declined to be identified in this report due to the sensitivity of the information, said a “caregiver” lived with the couple in the rented bungalow at Barangay Mahabang Parang might have witnessed the incident.

Retired

Magpantay and Topacio, both 69, were retired peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), according to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

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Karapatan said the killings violated international conventions that protected peace consultants.The source said Magpantay also regularly took sleeping pills for depression and that “she was surely fast asleep” when the police came.

The couple, according to the police, faced a number of arrest and search warrants for attempted homicide and murder, and illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Police Col. Joseph Arguelles, Rizal provincial police director, said policemen went to the couple’s house to serve the warrants at 3 a.m., but they “resisted arrest” and were killed in a shootout.

The police said two rifles, two .45-caliber guns and two grenades were recovered from the house.

In a phone interview on Tuesday, the couple’s son, lawyer VJ Topacio, said his parents had multiple bullet wounds in their torsos.

“Our family deeply grieves [their] deaths … but more than shedding our tears in grief, our family is now left with questions that, until now, are still unanswered, and we are urgently seeking answers [to] … What is clear [to] us is that … they were killed in what can only be described as cold-blooded murder,” VJ said in a statement.

He said Magpantay suffered from diabetes and recently went into a four-day coma, while Topacio was constantly “in pain” due to a heart enlargement, a knee injury and frozen shoulder.

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“There is simply no way that the elderly couple was even able to put up a resistance, let alone an armed one, against dozens of policemen armed with high-powered guns and artillery,” he said.

Arguelles said the operation was led by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, noting that the local police only stayed outside the house as a support unit.

Mistaken identity

The CPP said the “execution” of the couple, who spent years in Central Luzon, was reminiscent of the killings of NDFP consultants Randall Echanis, Julius Giron and Randy Malayao.

Echanis was killed in his house in Quezon City in August, while Giron died in a reported shootout in Baguio City in March. Malayao was shot dead inside a bus in Nueva Vizcaya province in 2019.

In 2014, an elderly midwife and a retired company driver were arrested in Mexico town, Pampanga province, after police officers mistook them for Magpantay and Topacio.

Civilians Lourdes Quioc and Reynaldo Ingal spent 17 months in jail until the court dropped the charges against them and ruled that their arrest was a case of mistaken identity. INQ

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