SEVERAL top police officials in Negros Oriental were relieved from their posts by Camp Crame, after their operation resulted in the deaths of 14 suspected New People’s Army (NPA) supporters on Saturday, March 30.
Police Director General Oscar Albayalde issued the relief order for Negros Oriental Provincial Police Director Raul Tacaca, Canlaon City Police Director Patricio Degay, Manjuyod Police Station Chief Roy Mamaradlo and Santa Catalina Police Station Chief Michael Rubia pending the result of the investigation.
The operation dubbed Oplan Sauron targeted personalities who were reportedly in possession of unlicensed firearms.
Human rights groups criticized the police, saying the slain suspects were neither NPA members nor supporters.
Eight of the police’s targets were killed in Canlaon City, four in Manjuyod and two in Santa Catalina.
Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Debold Sinas said Oplan Sauron was legitimate as police officers were only implementing search warrants. They defended themselves after the suspects resisted arrest, he said.
The Commission on Human Rights, the National Police Commission and the Internal Affairs Service 7 have started investigating what happened during Oplan Sauron.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who visited the PRO 7 headquarters in Cebu City last Tuesday, April 2, believed the police encountered NPA members. However, he will await the result of the investigation, he said.
The NPA’s Leonardo Panaligan Command in Negros Island condemned the operation, saying the police killed innocent persons.
Lacson said the suspects were farmers who worked for the NPA, attacking soldiers and extorting from businessmen in Negros. (From AYB of SuperBalita Cebu, KAL)