National Police chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos on Saturday assured that the 17 lawmen facing indictment over the death of a couple during a raid in Batangas last year will be available for proceedings.
Carlos directed the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), the lawmen’s mother unit, to ensure that the 17 are all accounted for and available to face further investigation.
The PNP will also extend all possible legal assistance to the 17, who are facing indictment for a murder case filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), he said.
“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.
On Friday, the Department of Justice announced that it will be conducting a preliminary investigation after the NBI filed the complaint against the 17 lawmen over the death of couple Ariel and Ana Mariz “Chai” Evangelista.
The Evangelistas, both leaders of a fisherfolk group, were among nine persons killed in simultaneous police raids in different parts of Calabarzon on March 7, 2021 — a date now called “Bloody Sunday” by some groups.
Carlos maintained the legitimacy of the operation against the Evangelistas, saying policemen only acted on orders of the court to serve a search warrant for illegal firearms on the couple’s home, though this led 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,” Carlos said.
The PNP chief said he sees no need for the force to conduct its own investigation of the alleged murders parallel to that of NBI’s.
However, Carlos noted that the PNP would still look into possible administrative liabilities of involved lawmen, “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. (John Roson)