Negros Oriental police chief sacked again amid new killings

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 31) — The police chief of Negros Oriental has been relieved from his post amid new killings in the province.

Philippine National Police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde ordered Monday the relief of Col. Raul Tacaca "to give way to an impartial probe on possible lapses by his administration in light of several [high-profile] killings in the province for the past several days," the agency said in a statement.

In April, Tacaca was also relieved after 14 farmers, believed to be communist rebels, were killed in joint military and police operations in several towns and cities in Negros Oriental in March. He was reinstated on April 30, according to a report.

Albayalde has ordered Maj. Gen. Elmo Francis Sarona, director of the PNP's Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management, to lead the investigation on the recent killings.

Meanwhile, Brigadier General Angelito Dumangeng, Central Visayas director for operations, will serve as officer-in-charge in the province, the PNP added.

"We assure that the peace and order situation in Negros Oriental is under control," the statement said, adding that police units in the area "remain on full alert."

At least nine people, including policemen and public officials, have been killed in separate incidents in Negros Oriental in the past nine days.

On July 18, four police officers were murdered, allegedly by armed rebels. President Rodrigo Duterte offered a bounty of ₱3 million for capture of the perpetrators.

The Ayungon policehave arrested two suspects in the killings of the policemen. They were identified as Rico Cadelina, 39, and Lito Anadon, 51, both residents of Sitio Yamot, Barangay Mabato, Ayungon.

Five days later, a 53-year-old lawyer was shot while in his vehicle by gunmen riding-in-tandem in Guihulngan City.

On July 25, three public officials were shot dead in their homes in the same city. Two days later, the former mayor of Ayungon town and his cousin were killed in his home.

Albayalde on Monday ordered the deployment of more than 300 special action forces to Negros Island following the violent events.

Human rights watchdog Defend Negros Network said at least 87 people have been killed in the island since 2017.

In the wake of the series of violence, authorities in Negros Oriental have agreed to create a task force that will strive to achieve peace and deter communist forces.

302nd Brigade Commander Ignacio Madriaga said the group, which will be called Negros Oriental Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, will work to eliminate armed conflict by addressing issues often called out by communist rebels such as lack of roads and access to government services.

Dumaguete-based journalist Roy August Buzz contributed to this report.