MANILA — The new leader of the Philippine National Police, Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, on Wednesday dared critics who are linking him to killings in Central Visayas to file charges against him.
Sinas said he was not facing any case for his stint as police chief of the region.
"Kung may reklamo sila, puwede naman po nila i-file iyon sa korte natin, sa iba't ibang ahensya na nagsu-supervise po sa PNP. At kung tungkol po doon ito sa alleged human rights violation, wala pong katotohanan iyon," he said in a Laging Handa public briefing.
(If they have a complaint, they can file it in our courts, before various agencies supervising the PNP. And if this is about the alleged human rights violation, there is no truth to that.)
"I-e-encourage ko po sila na mag-file ng kaso para sasagutin ko po sa tamang venue," he added.
(I encourage them to file a case so I could answer in the proper venue.)
It was under Sinas' watch as Central Visayas police director in 2019 when the spate of alleged communist killings took place in Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental. Sinas was made to explain before a Senate panel over the killings.
Sinas' appointment as PNP chief had caused a stir on social media, where users recalled how as Metro Manila police chief he had celebrated his birthday in May with dozens of senior officers at a party or mañanita that defied strict coronavirus lockdown rules.
The PNP Chief said criminal charges against him for the mañanita are pending before the Taguig prosecutor's office.
Justice Sec. Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday said that aside from the complaint in Taguig which was filed by the police, a separate one was filed by the National Bureau of Investigation at the Department of Justice.
Sinas is the latest commander to rise to the top post under Duterte having led operations in bloody hotspots of his war on drugs, during which thousands of urban poor have been killed, many in mysterious circumstances.
Rights groups accuse police of executing suspected dealers. Police say those killed in their operations were legitimate targets who resisted arrest.
"What lies ahead for the Filipino people with Sinas' appointment is a bloody party of human rights violations," said Cristina Palabay of rights group, Karapatan.
"This fascist regime is gearing up for an intensified crackdown on dissent and assault on human rights."
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte valued Sinas’ track record and "big" contribution to the drug war. Carlos Conde, Philippines researcher for Human Rights Watch, said drugs killings were rampant in the capital region under Sinas and that his appointment did not bode well for human rights.
"He seems very loyal to Duterte and it looks like he's going to do what Duterte would ask him to do," he said.
— With a report from Reuters