MANILA - Philippine National Police chief, General Oscar Albayalde has sacked the heads of police of Negros Oriental province and 3 towns over a string of operations that led to the death of 14 farmers.
Among those removed from their posts over the raids were PNP's Negros Oriental chief Col. Raul Tacaca, Canlaon chief Col. Patricio Degay, Manjuyod chief Lt. Kevin Roy Mamaraldo and Catalina chief Capt. Michael Rubia.
Their police deputy chiefs will be in charge of their areas, said Albayalde.
The relief order aims to pave the way for an impartial investigation, he added.
it could be recalled that authorities served arrest warrants late Friday on suspected "hardcore criminals" who fought back, police said. Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago however dubbed the incident a massacre, alleging that police entered one of the farmers' homes without a warrant.
The PNP earlier denied that last week's incident was a massacre.
"There was no massacre. All these law enforcement operations that was conducted by the Negros Orientel Police Office was legitimate and covered by search warrants," said PNP spokesperson Colonel Bernard Banac.
The suspects were "involved in past incidents targeting policemen and soldiers," he said. The operation was part of a nationwide campaign against loose firearms, he said.
Aside from the fatalities, 12 others were arrested and unharmed, said the official. "There was never an intention to eliminate all the suspects," Banac said.