National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s shoot-to-kill order against armed rebels.
“Tama naman ‘yun dahil armado ang mga NPA na ‘yan. Alangan namang ang iisipin mo pa ay human rights. Isipin na natin kung paano natin sila matalo,” said Esperon.
Groups and activists have already claimed that those killed were not communist rebels.
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation are already investigating the incident.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Monday that they will include the AO 35 Task Force on Extrajudicial Killings investigation into the incident if activists were indeed killed.
But Justice Undersecretary Adrian Sugay clarified this.
“Titingnan kung ang mga nasawi ay miyembro ng cause-oriented groups and are engaged primarily in legitimate dissent or opposition. Kasi po ‘pag hindi, ang mangyayari po riyan, ‘yan ay dapat idulog sa ating pulis, sa ordinary processes through the PNP,” said Sugay.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has its own investigation into the incident. They also allegedly saw the crime scene in Cavite and Batangas and obtained sworn statements, although many still refused to speak.
Esperon defends Duterte’s ‘kill,kill,kill’ order vs. armed rebels
Some human rights groups have also questioned the apparent use of search warrants as a tool to prosecute government dissidents.
This was allegedly done to activists in Negros and Tondo in 2019, to the Tumandok in Panay in December, and to the detention of journalist Lady Ann Salem and 6 unionists in December where they were accused of illegally concealing weapons and explosives.
They also want the Supreme Court to review the rule on issuing search warrants so that it is not abused.
But the PNP insists that they have enough evidence.
“The charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives were sufficiently supported by evidence which served as basis for the issuance of search warrants,” PNP said in a statement.
Their personnel has also been notified to peacefully serve the search warrants.