Over a year after the widely denounced “Bloody Sunday” raids, in which nine human rights and labor activists were killed in the Calabarzon region, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said it was standing by the 34 cops who now face murder charges before the Department of Justice over the incident.
The Bloody Sunday raids took place on March 7, 2021, when officers raided and killed members of progressive organizations in the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon at the crack of dawn. The raids took place days after President Rodrigo Duterte declared in a speech, “I’ve told the military and the police, that if they find themselves in an armed encounter with the communist rebels, kill them, make sure you really kill them, and finish them off if they are alive.”
Although police insisted they were complying with Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70, which ordered law enforcement to “address causes of armed conflict with communists” in the country, and that the activists who were killed had violently resisted arrest, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) found evidence to charge the officers involved in the operation with murder before the Department of Justice.
PNP Chief Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said that it would be extending assistance to the cops, including legal aid if they need it.
“We are now accounting for these police officers. We need to help them because, in my mind, they were just performing their role as police officers,” Azurin said in a press briefing.
The chief also called on the PNP’s former leaders, especially those in service at the time of the raids, to show statements of support.