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Probe in slay of 9 in Cotabato urged

SEVEN Mindanao lawmakers have sought a congressional probe on the August 29 midday killings of nine people in Kabacan, North Cotabato, which allegedly may have involved some police officers.

“Just as violence has no place in our communities, a culture of impunity should also be cast aside and eliminated, especially in our law enforcement agencies that are supposed to uphold the law. Kaya kapag may pagmamalabis sa kapangyarihan, kailangang parusahan at siguruhin na hindi na mauulit,” Deputy Speaker and Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman said.

“May persistent reports and may testimonial evidence umano na ang may sala sa insidenteng ito ay mga pulis mismo. Kung totoo ito, dapat mapanagot ang mga salarin. May elemento ng pagtitiwala ang mga biktima sa mga pulis, kaya lubos na nakakalungkot na ganito ang sinapit nila sa kamay ng mga taong dapat ay nagtatanggol sa kanila,” Hataman, former governor of the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), lamented.

“Kung hindi naman totoo, may pagkakataon tayo na malaman ang puno’t dulo ng mga ulat ng police involvement sa insidenteng ito. We should clear the air as we cannot have our citizens distrusting our men in uniform. Mas madami pa rin sa kanila ang maayos at matuwid na nagpapatupad ng batas,” he further explained.

House Resolution No. 1183 was filed on September 2 by Hataman, Anak Mindanao (AMIN) party-list Rep. Amihilda Sangcopan, Maguindanao Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu, Sulu Rep. Munir Arbison, Tawi-Tawi Rep. Rashidin Matba, and Lanao del Sur Reps. Yasser Alonto Balindong and Ansaruddin Abdul Malik Adiong.

As a member of Congress representing the Muslims, indigenous peoples, and Christians and their families, Sangcopan said the condemnation against the brutal shooting of the nine Muslim farmers is truly an understatement to say the least on how she and her organization feel toward the perpetrators.

“Congress has to do more than grieving for the lives of the nine farmers. We have to see to it that justice be served for the victims and their respective families who are now in deep anguish and rage,” said Sangcopan.

“The Philippine National Police is mandated to serve and protect our rights and safety. But with the mounting number of alleged atrocities committed by law enforcers against us Muslims, it has become a wrenching and glaring everyday reminder for us not to trust them. And this is not healthy for all as it breeds animosity that may lead to more unintended consequences,” she added.

Maguindanao Rep. Mangudadatu, for his part, said the people’s trust in law enforcers, especially in the police, is essential in keeping the peace.

“And if there are flaws in police procedure or the temptation to overstep lawful boundaries are significant, then we have to pass remedial measures to address all of these. If we can prevent these kinds of killings from happening through legislative action, then we should do it,” Mangudadatu added.

The resolution read: “Allegations that PNP personnel are involved in nefarious activities, especially the killing of innocent people, should never be condoned, hence an investigation is necessary to determine the circumstances leading to these senseless activities in order for Congress to legislate remedial measures to ensure that the Constitutional rights of the people are protected and that law offenders are prosecuted.”

“The recurrence of reports of alleged illegal practices committed by law enforcement agencies especially affecting the Muslim population has become so alarming and leads the people to believe that this is systematic and institutional failures, requiring a comprehensive review of the existing criminal justice system and law enforcement procedures and protocols being implemented in the country,” the resolution also stated.