Police said all those killed were associated with “communist terrorist groups” and shot officers while they were serving search warrants.
The Philippines police, backed by military forces, killed nine people in a series of raids against suspected communist rebels over the weekend, with officials saying the suspects first opened fire. However, others said the casualties were unarmed activists.
Police said on Monday that all those killed were associated with “communist terrorist groups” and fired at officers while they were serving search warrants. Police said the suspects died while being brought to hospitals.
The police gave at least 24 search warrants for illegal firearms and explosives at several locations in Kavit, Laguna, Batangas and Rizal provinces over the weekend. Police said another six suspects were arrested and nine escaped.
The killings were immediately condemned by leftists and rights groups, who called for an independent investigation into what they described as the execution of legitimate activists under the guise of action on rebels fighting a rebel insurgency for the past five decades. .
Christina Palabe of the rights group Karapatan said many of those killed belonged to political and labor groups, with a couple heading a fisherman’s group seen by police hiding their 10-year-old son under a bed.
National Police Chief General Debold Sinus denied the suspects to be victims of extra-judicial killings.
“, Sinus told reporters,” they were legitimate operations because they were covered by search warrants.
Renato Reyes of the leftist coalition Bayan said the Supreme Court should look into what it said is a shocking pattern of officers providing suspicious or fabricated details about suspected criminals, who then issue warrants .
“A policeman makes a wild charge that you are just in possession of a grenade and a judge will sign a search warrant that could lead to your arrest or death,” Mr. Reyes said in a statement. “This is how bad things have become. Search warrants have been weaponized to go after unarmed activists. ”Ms. Palabe blamed President Rodrigo Duterte, who said military and police personnel were encouraged to commit acts of indecency with their regular television threats to kill insurgents and drug traffickers.
He accused an army officer, Antonio Parlade Jr., who leads military forces in the area where most of the weekend’s raids were falsely accused of linking several activists to armed communist groups. Mr. Parlade has denied such allegations.
Last month, Defense Secretary Delphine Lorenzana fired the Deputy Chief of Army Staff for intelligence for publicly issuing an incorrect list of communist guerrillas. Lorenzana said the intelligence chief’s “negligence only reflects an unconstitutional attitude and confusion towards his job.”
The military has intensified its campaign against the New People’s Army guerrillas and Mr. Dutarte, as his supporters, won his six-year presidential run. Mr. Duterte’s term is aimed at ending the military coup, one of the world’s longest races, before the end of June 2022.
Mr Duterte began peace talks after Norway took office in mid-2016 and appointed leftist activist leaders to cabinet posts to promote the talks. But talks broke down after each side accused each other of continuing attacks while efforts were on to end a rural-based insurgency.