PNP disputes Karapatan: Bodies of slain activists can only be claimed by families
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) has disputed a rights advocate group’s accusations that authorities refused to return the slain activists’ remains, saying only families have the right to claim them.
PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana said on Thursday that Karapatan had made false allegations because it was the group’s members who tried to forcibly enter the funeral parlor in Antipolo City, which attended to the bodies of some activists who were killed in police operations last Sunday.
Police reports said nine activists were killed after resisting arrest and fighting back while serving search warrants on different areas of the Calabarzon Region. On Wednesday night, Karapatan said supposed military officers had stopped them from picking up the bodies.
“Baligtad po sir ang report sa inyo. Per info from PD (Provincial Director of) Rizal, sumugod po mga […] Karapatan members at gusto nilang pumasok sa funeraria without due notice. The owner supposedly wanted to file a legal complaint (against) them for their scandalous acts,” Usana told reporters.
(They are giving you a twisted report. According to the Rizal police Provincial Director, Karapatan members stormed and tried to enter the funeral parlor without due notice. The owner supposedly wanted to file a legal complaint against them for their scandalous actions.)
He further explained that the funeral parlor’s management did not want a big crowd to enter and ask for the bodies to observe health protocols.
According to Usana, the bodies were properly attended by the local government and the police, and that it was only Karapatan members who created a disturbance.
“The owner of the funeral house wanted the next of kin to get in, but the Karapatan members wanted to join them which could not be possible in view of the possible violations of (minimum) the health and safety standards,” he claimed.
“The cadaver was being properly attended to by the local government and the police when the Karapatan created the scenario. Only the family members have the right to claim the casket,” he added.
Karapatan initially issued a media advisory on Wednesday night alleging that about 20 soldiers stopped relatives of the slain activists from claiming the bodies from the funeral parlor in Antipolo’s Barangay San Jose.
As of now, the bodies are still at the funeral parlor.
INQUIRER.net contacted the Philippine Army’s Public Affairs Office in Calabarzon and Armed Forces of the Philippines Southern Luzon Command chief Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade on Wednesday night to get their side of the story and verify Karapatan’s claims. However, both have not yet replied as of posting time.
Although the police have consistently pointed out that the operations were legitimate, many organizations in the country and abroad have denounced the incident. The United Nations has released a statement stating that it was “appalled” by the attacks on the activists.
At this stage, the Commission on Human Rights and the task force on extrajudicial killings led by the Department of Justice are doing separate investigations into the incident.
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