'We did not fire our guns,' cops in Batangas 'bloody Sunday' raid tell prosecutors | Inquirer News
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‘We did not fire our guns,’ cops in Batangas ‘bloody Sunday’ raid tell prosecutors

/ 01:41 PM March 16, 2022

MANILA, Philippines—“We did not fire our guns,” said the police officers tagged in the “bloody Sunday” operation last year that led to the death of a fisherfolk couple from Batangas.

The 17 members of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) Region 4-A submitted their counter-affidavits Tuesday in response to the murder complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for the death of Ariel and Ana Mariz Lemita-Evangelista of the Ugnayan ng Mamamayan Laban sa Pagwawasak ng Kalikasan at Kalupaan (UMALPAS KA).

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Autopsy of the remains of the Evangelista couple showed that they suffered gunshot wounds that were consistent with 5.56 caliber firearms.

“None of us carried [a 5.56 caliber firearm] during the operation as we were armed only with our standard issued 9 mm pistols,” the respondents said.

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Quoting the witnesses who claimed to hear 8 to 10 successive gunshots, the police officers said that the guns used were automatic pistols that could not have come from their 9mm firearms.

They also cited a report from the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) that no bullets or shell casing from a 9mm were recovered in the area.

Police’s version of ‘bloody Sunday’ raid

One of the groups of policemen said when they arrived at the area, they already heard successive gunshots from the Evangelista’s house.

“After the gunshots were cleared, uniformed personnel started entering the subject house and found the suspects lying on the floor. I then ordered the police officers present to bring the suspects to the hospital for medical treatment,” read one of the counter-affidavits.

In a separate counter-affidavit, another group of respondent police officers said they were tasked only to secure the area where the search warrant will be implemented.

They also said they already heard successive gunshots when they arrived at the area. After the gunshots stopped, they saw some of their companions carrying the Evangelista couple which were taken to the Apacible Memorial Hospital.

On the other hand, the two other police officers, designated as “searchers” to find the high powered firearms and explosives indicated in the search warrant, said they arrived late at the area “after getting lost en route” and arrived “long after the couple was rushed to the hospital.”

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“We never participated in or even saw the shooting and supposed ‘dragging’ of the spouses as we arrived very much after such events supposedly occurred,” they said.

All the police officers denied that they were wearing bonnets as claimed by the NBI in their complaint.

They said they are only wearing facemasks in compliance with the government’s health protocol.

Citing testimonies of the witnesses claiming they saw 20 to 50 uniformed personnel in the area meant that “we were not the only persons last seen with the suspects.”

They also mentioned the affidavit of two witnesses: one said she heard Anna Evangelista shouting “Ate Vangie! Ate Malou! Tulong, tulong po! May sundalo!” and the other witness “referred to the assailant as a soldier and not a police officer.”

“The Final Report stated that the operation was jointly conducted with other uniformed personnel of the PNP and Armed Forces of the Philippines, and not only by the CIDG (Region 4),” read the counter-affidavit.

The Evangelista couple were among the nine activists killed on March 7, 2021, during simultaneous police-military operations in Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal provinces, now known as “Bloody Sunday.”

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TAGS: Activists, Bloody Sunday, Calabarzon, Human rights, Search Warrant, Tokhang
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