Gen. Debold M. Sinas, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said on Monday, March 8, that the region-wide raids against personalities with alleged links to communist rebels is valid, saying the fact that courts have issued search warrants for those operations indicate that they were all legitimate operations.
At least 24 search warrants were implemented in the houses and offices of groups that were earlier branded as front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas and Rizal by joint PNP operatives and local military forces under COPLAN (Case Operation Plan) ASVAL.
An internet search disclosed that As Val is a Soviet-designed rifle with integrated suppressor and is mainly used for covert operations. In medical term, ASVAL is a treatment for varicose veins.
The series of raids conducted on Sunday was described as a simultaneous implementation of search warrants against what the police described as Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs) in CALABARZON.
Nine people died while at least 15 others were arrested. Four people whose names appeared in the search warrants eluded arrest, according to Sinas.
“They’re not illegitimate operations. They’re legitimate operations because they are covered by search warrants,” said Sinas.
“If you only know how hard it is to get a search warrant, then you will understand. You have to justify the charges and witnesses,” he added.
Sinas said the search warrants are for charges of illegal possession of firearms. But he said not all of the subjects of the operations have pending cases.
In one of the spot reports involving Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)-Cavite coordinator Manny Asuncion who was killed after he allegedly tried to shoot it out with cops and soldiers, it stated that a .45 pistol was seized from him. In the case of Abner Damas Esto and Emil Esto in Rodriguez town of Rizal, one of them allegedly fired at the raiding policemen which resulted in the clash and eventually led to their. Allegedly seized from them were two handguns and two grenades.
In the case of fisherfolk organizers couple Ariel Evangelista and Ana Evangelista, the serving of the search warrant on them allegedly led to the shootout. The couple were killed and militant human rights group Karapatan said the death of the couple was witnessed by their 10-year old child who hid under the bed.
The group condemned the operations and questioned the police statements that those who died tried to shoot it out with them, saying it was the same narrative they used during the drug war wherein the Department of Justice itself stated that there were some violations of police operational procedures.
Sinas, however, would not comment when asked of the connection between President Duterte’s order to kill communist rebels and the operation on Sunday in CALABARZON, but stressed that Coplan ASVAL is legitimate.
“Those are legitimate operations covered properly by the documents issued by the court,” said Sinas.