Worsening PNP abuses slammed | Inquirer News

Worsening PNP abuses slammed

05:48 AM March 12, 2021

Three days after the killing of Calbayog City Mayor Ronaldo Aquino on March 8, the police have yet to present evidence to support their claim that the mayor was killed in a shootout while lawmakers criticized the Philippine National Police (PNP) for worsening abuses.

Samar Rep. Edgar Sarmiento, a former Calbayog City mayor allied with Aquino, called for a congressional investigation into Aquino’s killing, calling it a “senseless murder.”

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According to Sarmiento, there are “doubts on whether the incident was a legitimate police investigation since the members of the uniformed service were not in their official uniform when it happened.”

The congressman also said “there were already previous incidents in our district where political leaders were killed by gunmen” but “we have yet to hear arrests being made and perpetrators being brought to justice.”

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Aquino’s son, Mark, said at least 10 of their barangay leaders had been killed by unidentified gunmen since January 2021.

“It (Mayor Aquino’s slay) was politically motivated. There were no other reasons why he was murdered,” he said in a phone interview.

Caught on video

Sarmiento earlier appealed to President Duterte and Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to handle the probe.

Yesterday, Guevarra said he would also investigate a Feb. 20 incident in Valencia City in Bukidnon where a policeman was caught on video planting a gun beside the body of a slain drug suspect.

A video showing Police Cpl. Benzon Gonzales firing a gun three times before putting it beside the body of slain drug suspect Pol Estañol went viral on social media recently.

Guevarra, however, said the PNP should be allowed to do what it’s supposed to do.

“Let’s wait and see how the PNP authorities would deal with this situation,” he said.

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On the other hand, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, also an ally of Mayor Aquino, appeared tired of the reasons police usually present in suspicious killings.

“Either the suspects always fought back or concealed illegal firearms or, now, shot it out with them. It seems the police always have a prepared story so they will not be blamed for the killings and human rights violations happening now,” he said on in a statement on Wednesday.

Pangilinan asked, “Why is the [PNP] changing its tune from an ambush to a shootout? Why were the police wearing bonnets and carrying heavy firearms? What could be the motive of the mayor and his aides in shooting the police, if the claim of the PNP chief is to be believed?”

Pangilinan lamented that the PNP, the “very institution supposed to protect and preserve law and order,” seemed to be the ones behind the controversial killings.

“This is why we have to pursue a fair and comprehensive investigation to punish the perpetrators and give justice to the victims,” he said.

—WITH REPORTS FROM FRANCIS TIU SONCO AND DJ YAP

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TAGS: Calbayog city, Crime, crime investigation, Mayor Ronaldo Aquino, PNP‎, police abuses
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