Palace denies hand in activist deaths

THE PRESIDENTIAL palace on Wednesday denied it was behind the killing of two activists. In a statement, Presidential Spokesman Harry L. Roque said the government had nothing to do with the killing of  National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Randall Echanis and human rights activist Zara Alvarez, who were killed in separate incidents this month. “Blaming state forces as the people behind these murders is unfounded as investigation on the killings of Randall Enchanis and Zara Alvarez is now under way,” Mr. Roque said. He added that the palace denounces any form of violence. “We are a nation of laws and violence has no place in any civilized society.” Mr. Echanis was stabbed to death inside his home in Quezon City last week. His wife earlier said his body had been taken by the police. Mr. Echanis was buried at the weekend. Unidentified gunmen shot and killed Ms. Alvarez earlier this week in Negros province. Both men were among the 13 activists killed under the term of President Rodrigo R. Duterte, who took office in 2016. Mr. Duterte has openly criticized leftist groups and activists. — Gillian M. Cortez

Suspected pusher killed in sting

POLICE KILLED a suspected drug pusher during a supposed shootout in Dasmariñas City, Cavite on Tuesday. Suspect Rommy Batrina had just sold a sachet of shabu to an undercover police officer when he allegedly pulled out a gun after sensing that it was a drug sting. The shootout took place along Congressional Road in the village of Burol I at about 11:30 p.m., according to a report from the Cavite police. Mr. Batrina was killed during the exchange of gunfire with policemen. An undetermined quantity of shabu was found in his possession, according to the report. Meanwhile, three drug suspects were caught during a sting in Rodriguez, Rizal province that same evening. The suspects were arrested in the village of Burgos at about 9 p.m. The suspects had 12 sachets of shabu and P500 in cash that they received from a cop who posed as a drug buyer. Drug trafficking charges were being prepared against the suspects, police said. — Emmanuel Tupas, Philippine Star