By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang has defended the police and military operations which killed 14 individuals, eight of them reportedly farmers, in Negros Oriental over the weekend, saying they were legitimate.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after it was reported that the said operations in three towns in the province resulted to the death of 14 individuals.
In his Monday press briefing, Panelo came to the defense of the Philippine National Police (PNP), saying the operations were legitimate.
“It’s a legitimate police operation. Search warrants were issued by competent court, and they were implementing that, and the 14 of them fought with the law enforcers and they were killed in the process,” he said.
“Twelve of them were arrested, and are now doing the process–legal process,” he added.
The Palace official also brushed off allegations that the government is deliberately targeting farmers who have links with the communist rebels.
“That’s the usual statement issued by those who are linked with the Communist Party of the Philippines,” Panelo said.
“But the fact remains is that the people subject of the search warrant have been identified as suspects in certain ambushes, assassinations, assassination attempts,” he added.
“It’s [a] police operation and backed up by documents, and the courts believe in them that’s why they issued these warrants,” he continued.
According to reports, the casualties were killed during the service of 36 search warrants for illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Twelve were arrested while two managed to escape.