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Carlos stands by 17 PNP-CIDG agents in NBI probe

January 16, 2022 Alfred P. Dalizon 358 views

PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) chief, General Dionardo B. Carlos yesterday expressed his strong decision to fully support the 17 officers and men of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) accused of killing a couple during an anti-illegal firearms’ raid in Nasugbu, Batangas in March last year.

Carlos said the PNP leadership will extend all possible legal assistance to the 17 CIDG operatives who are facing indictment for alleged double murder in connection with the death of the couple. The cases against the policemen were filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) before the Department of Justice (DOJ).

“This is among the occupational risks faced by police personnel arising from service-related circumstances and regular performance of duty. Our personnel deserve to avail of all legal remedies provided by law,” Carlos said.

The PNP chief maintained the legitimacy of the police operation in Nasugbu in March 2021.

According to him, the policemen were armed with a search warrant for violation of Republic Act 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulations Act of 2013 issued by a local court against couple Ariel and Ana Mariz Lemita-Evangelista when they raided the two’s residence leading to an armed confrontation.

“At any rate, the PNP respects the legal action of the NBI in bringing the case up for prosecution before the DOJ. This will allow the respondents the opportunity to face their accusers and present their side in the best interest of due process,”Carlos said.

The PNP chief also said he sees no need for the PNP to conduct its own investigation of the alleged murders parallel to that of NBI’s although he added they will be looking into the administrative liability of the personnel concerned as a matter of policy.

“The PNP has its own internal investigation machinery, the Internal Affairs Service. The case stemmed from an operation; it is well within the jurisdiction of IAS,” he said.

“We are confident that this indictment is not enough to dampen the resolve of the CIDG or any other PNP unit in pursuing the objectives of the PNP against terrorism and criminality,” Carlos said.

Carlos said he has instructed PNP-CIDG director, Major Gen. Albert Ignatius D. Ferro, to ensure that all 17 CIDG operatives from Calabarzon are accounted for and available to face further investigation.

The PNP chief came out in defense of the CIDG agents after the NBI filed a murder complaint against the 17 for their role in the death of the couple during the March 7, 2021 joint police-military operations in Southern Tagalog to ferret out suspected armed members of the New People’ Army.

The DOJ did not identify those named in the complaint as it explained that “the names of the respondents should be available once the Office of the Prosecutor General issues the corresponding subpoenas directing them to appear and answer the complaint against them.”

“This filing comes as the culmination of months of tireless work on the part of the Administrative Order No. 35 (s.2012) Special Investigation Team that conducted the investigation and case buildup with the valuable and diligent assistance of the NBI,” the DOJ said.

`“The DOJ, as chair-agency of the AO 35 Inter-Agency Committee, will now begin the preliminary investigation of the case in earnest, with all due consideration to the families of the victims and the constitutional rights of the alleged perpetrators,” it added in a statement.

The DOJ noted that the Evangelista couple were killed in Nasugbu, Batangas while the policemen were serving search warrants against them.

It pointed out that the actions taken “manifest the Philippine government’s commitment to hold erring law enforcement officers and personnel to account for any excessive actions in the field.”

“These cases also represent an encouraging indication that Philippine national internal accountability mechanisms are working. There is zero tolerance for impunity in the ranks of Philippine law enforcement agencies, and these mechanisms are in place for the maintenance of an environment free from threats to anyone’s life, liberty, and personal security,” it stressed.