MANILA — Retired Gen. Debold Sinas was the regional director of the Central Visayas police office in July 2018 before he became chief of the National Capital Region Police Office in October 2019. In November 2020, President Duterte appointedhim as the chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
From regional to national posts, Sinas’s term was characterized by raids using what human rights groups labeled as “defective, copy-paste warrants.” These operations resulted in killings and arrests of farmers, indigenous peoples, and human rights defenders.
Those arrested and charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives maintained that the police planted evidence against them.
Bulatlat looks back at some of the human rights violations committed during Sinas’s active service.
– On March 30, 14 peasants were killed in Synchronized Enhanced Managing of Police Operations (SEMPO) in different parts of Negros Oriental. Twelve others were arrested on the same day. Also read: Negros killings, ‘a war against unarmed civilians’ — groups
– On June 27, Lito Itao, 49, was gunned down in sitio Culasi, barangay Buenavista, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental. Ten other activists were arrested in separate incidents the same week.
– On July 23, lawyer Anthony Trinidad was shot by unknown assailants. Trinidad, who handled cases of political prisoners, received death threats and was publicly red-tagged before the incident.
– On April 22, Escalante City Councilor and longtime human rights worker Bernardino “Toto” Patigas was murdered in Escalante City. Following his death, other human rights defenders in the region received death threats via SMS.
– A few days after Sinas assumed his post as NCR police chief, Gabriela leader and her husband were arrested in Manila during a dawn raid.
– On the same day, 56 activists and six minors were nabbed during simultaneous police raids in three offices of activist groups in Bacolod City.
A few hours before the raids, Sinas met with Branch 89 Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos Villavert who issued the search warrants for the police operations.
– On Nov. 5, police raided the office of Bayan-Manila and arrested three activists, including then pregnant Reina Mae Nasino.
– On International Human Rights Day, one journalist and six labor organizers were arrested in separate raids on the basis of a search warrant issued by a Quezon City judge.
– On Dec. 30, nine Tumandok were killed in simultaneous police operations in Panay. Two weeks before, a government asset labeled the organization of the victims as a communist front.
– On Aug. 17, human rights worker Zara Alvarez was gunned down in Bacolod City. She was repeatedly red-tagged by state security forces.
The brutal killings of National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultants took place with Sinas at the helm of the PNP. In all these incidents, police implemented a raid, and claimed that the NDFP consultants fought back.
– On Aug. 10, Randall Echanis was killed inside his rented apartment in Quezon City. Forensic expert said Echanis was made to suffer before he was killed.
– On Nov. 25, two retired NDF peace consultants were killed in a pre-dawn police raid in Angono, Rizal. While police claimed that Eugenia Magpantay and Agaton Topacio resisted arrest, the family maintained that the two were suffering from illnesses at the time of the police operation.
– On Dec. 10, combined forces of the military and police killed Alvin Luque, spokesperson of the National Democratic Front in Mindanao, in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur.The Communist Party of the Philippines in a statement disputed claims of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division that Luque resisted arrest and fought back.
Arrests of activists and alleged quarantine violators were also rampant during Sinas’s term.
At least 141 activists were arrested during nationwide #SONA protests.
– On March 30, police raided the office of labor alliance Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Engklabo (AMEN) in barangay Market Area, Santa Rosa, Laguna, and claimed to have found firearms and explosives. The labor group said the office has not been used for over a year.
– On March 3, Angelo Karlo Guillen, lawyer of the victims of Tumandok killings, was stabbed by two unidentified assailants in Iloilo City.He survived the slay attempt.
– On Feb. 15, police entered the University of San Carlos-Talamban in Cebu City, sanctuary ofLumad students and teachers. Two teachers, two datu (tribe leaders) and three adult students were charged with kidnapping and serious illegal detention.
Six activists were arrested in different parts of the country on the second week of February. They are laders of people’s organizations in Caraga region, a barangay captain in Cagayan Valley and peasant leaders and human rights workers in Bohol.