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DOJ to meet with PNP, AFP on violent raids

THE Department of Justice will sit down with the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines to discuss “ways and means of avoiding the use of unnecessary force in the conduct of legitimate operations.”

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra revealed this yesterday as he underscored the need to urgently meet law enforcement agencies following the recent killings of lawyers and activists.

“We understand the concern of the UN OHCHR. That is why the DOJ has ordered a thorough investigation of the incidents. The DOJ will also meet with law enforcement agencies to discuss ways and means of avoiding the use of unnecessary force in the conduct of legitimate operations,” Guevarra said in a message.

Guevarra issued the statement after the United Nations’ Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern over the deaths of nine activists and arrests of several others during simultaneous raids in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas and Rizal.

Initial reports showed that authorities were able to recover explosives, several firearms, and subversive documents during the operations.

Karapatan and other groups have denounced the incidents, saying the raids came following President Rodrigo Duterte’s speech on Friday at the joint meeting of the National Task Force – Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in Northern Mindanao “telling police and military to ignore human rights and kill suspected rebels.”

The simultaneous raids were carried out by the PNP together with the Armed Forces of the Philippines to serve search warrants for loose firearms and illegal possession of explosives. Hector Lawas

Probe welcomed

The Delegation of the European Union (EU) to the Philippines on Wednesday welcomed the announcement by the Government of the Philippines to investigate the death of nine individuals on March 7 in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) region.

“We recall the commitment undertaken by the Philippines at the Human Rights Council to ensure accountability for human rights violations and abuses, in accordance with due process under national courts of law and in full compliance with its international human rights obligations,” a statement issued by the EU said. The EU Delegation recalled that during the February 5 meeting of the Sub-Committee on Good Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights under the EU-Philippines Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, the EU and the Philippines discussed strengthening accountability and investigative measures.

Both parties agreed on the need to acknowledge and to protect human rights defenders and enable their work in accordance with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The EU expressed its sincere condolences to the families of all the victims and said it looked forward to the results of the investigations. With Cristina Lee-Pisco