PNP creates fact-finding team to look into Kidapawan dispersal

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday (April 5) created a fact-finding team that will look into the violent dispersal of protesters in Kidapawan City on Friday (April 1).

The protesters, mostly farmers who were affected by the drought, were asking the local government of North Cotabato for some 15,000 sacks of rice. Some of the protesters claimed unidentified policemen fired shots at them.

The incident left at least three people dead and many injured from both sides.

Ang aming policy is to be transparent. Hindi namin tino-tolerate ang aming kasamahan kung kasama namin mismo ang nag-violate ng rules and regulation, ng mga batas na pinatutupad sa ating bansa,” PNP Spokesman Chief Superintendent Wilben Mayor said.

[Translation: Our policy is to be transparent. We don’t tolerate our colleagues who violate rules and regulations, and the law being enforced in our country.]

Also read: Palace wants probe on violent dispersal of North Cotabato farmers

Directorate for Integrated Police Operations-Western Mindanao chief Director Isagani Nerez will head the five-man team.

Senior Superintendent Felix Servita, Superintendents Danny Macerin and Rainerio de Chavez are members, while Senior Superintendent Daniel Macatlang will serve as the secretariat.

Mayor said the fact-finding team will look into the operations, administrative, and disciplinary aspects of the incident.

Mayor added the investigation is for them to further improve their police operations and discipline police officers who committed violations during the violent incident.

Kung base doon sa pag-iimbestiga ay may napatunayang meron sa aming nagkamali, ay dapat lamang na magkaroon sya ng parusa,” said Mayor.

[Translation: If the investigation will prove that one of us erred, then he should be punished.]

Also read: PH gov’t under fire over violent Kidapawan dispersal

The PNP assured the public they will ensure transparency in the course of the investigation and there will be no cover-up.

They also welcomed other bodies initiating their own probes.

“We sympathize to those people kasama doon ang mga raliyista, yung protesters na nasaktan, namatay. Kasi mga pulis din kasama doon, na-injured din. Na-coma pa nga yung kasama namin. Pare-pareho kami ng pakiramdam sa ngayon,” Mayor said.

[Translation: We sympathize to those people, to the protesters who got hurt and to those who died. We also have policemen who got injured, and one of them is in coma. We feel the same.]

Mayor said during rallies, only unarmed members of civil disturbance unit are allowed to go near protesters.

But armed policemen are "tactically deployed" near the area and ideally, are not allowed to engage with protesters, even to fire warning shots.

Also read: Kidapawan protesters face criminal complaints