20 Rodriguez, Rizal cops relieved of duty over death of toddler in drug ops

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippnes, July 4) — Twenty police officers, including the chief of police of Rodriguez town in Rizal Province, were relieved of duty for the death of a 3-year-old girl caught in the crossfire of an anti-drug operation.

Philppine National Police Chief Police General Oscar Albayalde on Thursday said she directed Calabarzon regional police director Edward Carranza to carry out the order.

He added the police officers were ordered to surrender their firearms to the forensics laboratory for examination amid the investigation into the bloody operation that killed 3-year-old Myca, her father Renato "Kato" Ulpina, an unidentified suspect, and Police Master Sergeant Conrado Cabigao Jr.

The police carried out an anti-drug operation against Ulpina in his home in Rodriguez on June 29. The police claimed Ulpina used Myca as a "human shield," but it was belied by her mother.

Related: PNP Chief orders probe into death of 3-year-old girl killed in drug operations

Amid conflicting claims, the Commission on Human Rights has launched an investigation.

"As there are disputes in the claims of both sides on what transpired that unfaithful day, the Commission is monitoring the case and already dispatched a team to investigate. We ask the government to expedite the investigation on the matter and allow the rule of law to prevail," it said in a statement on Thursday.

PNP reported 6,600 suspects were killed in around 153,000 police operations since the government campaign against illegal drugs started in July 2016. However, human rights advocates said there are around 25,000 killings categorized under “homicide cases under investigation."