Despite counts of murder charges from the killing of nine activists in the ‘Bloody Sunday’ raid, thirty cops under probe by the Department of Justice (DOJ) are assured of support from the Philippine National Police (PNP), they confirmed last Monday, September 12, 2022.
The investigation comes after the police officers were charged with murder for the killing of nine Calabarzon-based activists in what human rights groups refer to as the ‘Bloody Sunday’ raid on March 7, 2021. Included among those who were killed are Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) coordinator and labor leader Manny Asuncion, as well as fisherfolk leaders Chai Lemita-Evangelista and Arnel Evangelista.
According to the PNP, the ‘Bloody Sunday’ operations are ‘legitimate,’ and those who were killed “resisted arrest.” Police General Rodolfo Azurin, Jr. believes the same reason is behind his office’s support for the thirty cops.
“Right now, we have 30 police officers being charged of a crime they have committed in performing their jobs… To my mind, they were just performing their role as police officers, so we don’t know what [the NBI] saw that they had to file cases,” Azurin stated.
The PNP also said that the activists were engaging in “terror operations,” which the activist group BAYAN strongly denied.
In a statement, BAYAN Secretary-General Renato Reyes, Jr. contradicted the PNP’s statement over the ‘Bloody Sunday’ killings, saying that those who were killed were “legal activists and not communist terrorists.”
“The Bloody Sunday narratives are all too familiar—planted evidence to justify arrests or the ‘nanlaban’ excuse to justify EJKs,” he also added.
Meanwhile, an earlier autopsy of all the nine bodies by forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun in July 2021 implies that the activists were “shot to be killed,” following multiple gunshot findings.
“One common factor among all the nine is that they received two gunshots in the chest. If you aim at the chest, it is going to kill you,” said Fortun, suggesting certainty of the murder of the activists.
The ‘Bloody Sunday’ killings happened two days after former President Rodrigo Duterte’s instructions to the police and armed forces to “ignore human rights” and “finish off” rebellious individuals and groups in the country.