By Deighton Acuin


Malacañang said that President Rodrigo Duterte was “appalled” over the recent killings in Negros Oriental and the latter is taking a “neutral” stance regarding the matter.

“Nagparating po ng mensahe ang ating Presidente that he is appalled doon sa mga patayan na nangyayari sa Negros Oriental,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in an online briefing.

“Ang sinabi po ng Presidente is he will be completely neutral pero gagampanan ng estado ang kanyang obligasyon na imbestigahan, litisin at parusahan ang mga tao na pumapatay sa Negros Oriental,” Roque added.

He made the statement after Duterte met with the Central Visayas Peace and Order Council last Monday. However, Roque said that some of the matters that have been tackled were “confidential.”

The President has also ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to address the “conflicting claims to untitled land,” which was claimed as the primary cause of killings.

“Ang sabi po ng Presidente, everything else being equal, resolve these disputes in favor of the poor. Inatasan din ng Presidente ang DAR [Department of Agrarian Reform] na pabilisin din ang pagdidistribute ng lupa sa mga farmer beneficiaries dahil sinabi ni Presidente na sa probinsya ng Negros, talaga naman pong ang kawalan ng lupa ng magsasaka ay isang dahilan bakit nag-aaklas ang mga rebelde,” the Palace official said.

Earlier, lay minister Briccio Nuevo Jr. was killed by a man riding a motorcycle while he was staying at a vulcanizing shop.

However, according to Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) Most Rev. Rhee Timbang, the malicious “red-tagging” against Nuevo has led to his death.

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