Entire Philippine city police force sacked over killings and robberies
The 1,200-strong Caloocan city police force will be relieved and replaced in batches after undergoing re-training
The Philippine capital's police chief on Friday ordered that the entire 1,200-member police force in one of Manila's biggest areas be relieved of duty and retrained in response to a series of controversies, including the killing of three teenagers.
Metro Manila's top officer Oscar Albayalde said all police personnel in the Caloocan area of the capital would undergo 45 days retraining and reorientation after which all facing no charges would be reassigned to other police units, not necessarily in Manila.
The department of justice has started an investigation based on the murder and torture complaint against four Caloocan policemen allegedly linked to the killing of 17-year-old student Kian Delos Santos during an anti-drug raid last month.
The parents of two other teenagers have also filed double murder and torture complaints against two Caloocan policemen. Last week, CCTV footage purportedly showed 13 policemen robbing a house during an alleged drug raid.
All personnel in Caloocan's headquarters and seven precincts would be temporarily replaced by the regional public safety battalion, a combat-trained unit.
"This will be done in batches," Mr Albayalde said.
It is the first time an entire city police unit has been relieved of its duties since President Rodrigo Duterte unleashed his bloody crackdown against illegal drugs 15 months ago, a campaign that has killed thousands of Filipinos.
The move comes amid intense scrutiny of police activities in Caloocan in the wake of the killing of Kian Delos Santos last month in what police said was an anti-drugs operation. His lawyers and family say he was murdered in cold blood. Three officers involved in his killing say he fired at them and they acted in self-defence.
Duterte, known for his frequent speeches that call for drug dealers to be killed, ordered a thorough investigation into the Delos Santos killing and warned police he would not tolerate abuses.
Another teenager, Carl Arnaiz, suffered a similar fate. He was accused of trying to rob a taxi driver and shooting at police who tried to arrest him. The taxi driver told reporters on Sunday he saw him alive in custody.
About two dozen Caloocan residents, holding placards saying "Stop the Killings", held a noisy protest outside the precinct's police headquarters. Dozens of police trainees stood in front and watched the protest.
Friday's order came only a day after Philippine media reported members of the Caloocan precinct 4 raided an elderly woman's home and reportedly stole money in an incident captured on closed circuit television cameras. The video of the alleged robbery was uploaded on social media sites and went viral. Mr Albayalde immediately issued the orders to relieve the Caloocan precincts.
"From what we have seen this has been done or will continue to be done by others so it is best to implement this pre-emptive measure to avoid similar incidents," the police chief said. He warned other districts in Manila could face similar sanctions if they did not shape up.
Activists accuse police of executing suspected drug users and dealers systematically during anti-drugs operations and say official reports that say victims violently resisted arrest are implausible, and contradict witness accounts. The police reject those allegations and President Duterte has been furious at critics and political opponents who say he has a "kill policy".
Updated: September 15, 2017 02:30 PM