Reynaldo Bocala, a peace consultant of the National Democratic Front (NDF), was killed in a “legitimate” operation covered by arrest warrants, Philippine National Police chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said on Sunday.
Eleazar took exception to latest allegations that police operatives planted evidence on Bocala, who was killed in Barangay Balabag, Pavia, Iloilo emphasizing that the law enforcers were there to arrest the NDF consultant based on court-issued warrants on Friday night.
“Planting of evidence has been the constant accusations even if our police have legitimate operations. In this case, our policemen served arrest warrants against Bocala but Bocala and his companion resisted,” Eleazar said in a press statement.
He said the police operatives also have the right to protect themselves.
“The operatives cannot just stand there and not even protect themselves if, according to the initial report, the suspect acted aggressively,” he added.
Open to any probe
Eleazar said the PNP is open to any probe and it is within the rights of Bocala’s relatives and colleagues to seek an independent investigation.
Rights group Karapatan has called for an independent probe on the incident, claiming that Bocala should still be under the protection of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
“If they want an independent probe, so be it. PNP is open to it. But like other cases, the Internal Affairs Service would conduct moto proprio investigation if the operatives committed lapses that led to the death of the suspect,” Eleazar said.
He said part of the PNP Internal Affair Service’s (IAS) duty is to look into the complaints of Bocala’s relatives and companions.
“Whatever the findings and recommendation of the IAS, these would be based on the statement and gathered evidence,” Eleazar said.
Police operatives of the Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6), backed by military personnel, served arrest warrants issued by different courts against Bocala at his known location in Iloilo.
According to police reports, Bocala resisted arrest and fired at the policemen, triggering a shootout with the suspect and his companion. Both died in the encounter.
“With the termination of peace negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/NDF), this JASIG can no longer be invoked. This guarantee of immunity from arrest is an act of good faith and confidence-building measure in the peace negotiations between the government and the CPP/NPA/NDF,” he stressed.Eleazar said the NDF negotiators and consultants went into hiding after President Rodrigo Duterte terminated the JASIG in February 2017. SOVEREIGNPH