CHR probes death of red-tagged IPs opposed to dam construction in Panay

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 05 2021 07:58 PM | Updated as of Jan 05 2021 10:02 PM

MANILA – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said Tuesday it has launched an investigation into the death of 9 indigenous peoples (IP) of the Tumanduk tribe of Capiz and Iloilo, who police claimed "fought back" when search warrants were served against them last December 30, 2020.

The CHR said it launched a motu proprio probe into the killing of the IPs, noting they were "red-tagged" or baselessly linked to the communist movement.

They were reported to have been opposing the construction of Jalaur Dam in Calinog, Iloilo.

"The Commission at this point is equally interested to pursue the truth behind these deaths and arrests as there have been opposing narratives on how those who died resisted and some asserting that the evidence found were said to have been planted," CHR Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana said in a statement.

The CHR reminded law enforcers to strictly observe protocols for serving warrants as they are expected to respect the human rights and dignity of suspects during police operations.

"[T]he use of force should always be limited to what is reasonable and necessary only to subdue imminent danger and overcome resistance—not result in deaths," Gana said.

Aside from the 9 killed, 17 were arrested in the December 30 police operations in Tapaz, Capiz and Calinog, Iloilo. 

Police claimed those killed and arrested were armed rebels, but rights groups have disputed the accusations. 

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