De Lima bewails continued killings in PH

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has bewailed the continued spate of killings in the country, the recent of which include 14 farmers purportedly killed in an anti-criminality campaign at the hands of state authorities in Negros Oriental last March 30.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, said the recent killings highlighted the reigning culture of violence and abuses in the country tolerated and encouraged by Mr. Duterte and his allies.

“Mula Kidapawan, hanggang sa Sagay, at kamakailan lamang sa mga siyudad at munisipyo sa Negros Oriental, ang mga kaso ng pagpatay sa ating mga magsasaka ay maituturing na natin bilang kalunos-lunos na kalagayan ng Pilipinas ngayon sa ilalim ng marahas na rehimeng Duterte,” she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 499.

“Araw-araw na patayan, malawakan at walang tigil na karahasan – mula sa mga makikipot na eskinita’t pasilyo ng mga lunsod at kabayanan, hanggang sa mga malalawak na patag at mga bukid ng kanayunan. Ito ang panibagong kaayusan ng ating lipunan. Nakalulungkot. Nakasusuklam. Nakagagalit,” she added.

Last March 30, law enforcement authorities launched a joint operation against illegal firearms targeting suspected communist rebels where they allegedly served 36 search warrants to individuals from different municipalities of Negros Oriental.

The joint military and police operations in the different municipalities of Negros Oriental led to the death of 14 persons accused by the authorities to be supporters and members of the New People’s Army.

Witnesses and family members of the slain victims however likened the killings of the farmers to “tokhang” style executions where authorities stuck with their “nanlaban” narrative even though suspects who were killed were helpless and unarmed.

Slamming police’s oft-repeated “nanlaban” narrative to defend state-led killings, the former justice secretary pointed out that the farmers fought not with the police but fought for their own rights and legitimate interests.

“The decades-long struggle for genuine agrarian reform has continued to fail our farmers and their families. [T]his predicament forces our farmers to take it upon themselves the fight for their own rights and legitimate interests, resorting to dialogues and protest actions to demonstrate the continued injustices and government neglect,” she said.

“Totoo nga sigurong sila’y ‘nanlaban’. Nanlaban para sa kanilang karapatan. Nanlaban para sa kinabukasan ng kani-kanilang kabuhayan at mga pamilya. At nanlaban sa mapang-api at mapang-abusong sistemang pinapairal sa kasalukuyang administrasyon,” she added.

The lady Senator from Bicol lamented that instead of addressing their needs, the government reciprocated the victims’ cries for help with “bullets, assaults, and other forms of harassment [t]o the detriment of their own lives, limbs and dignity.”

De Lima, former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, said the recent killings should prompt the Filipino citizens to tirelessly demand for accountability for all the killings perpetrated by state authorities under the directive of Mr. Duterte. To allegedly give way to an impartial investigation into operations across the province, Negros Oriental Police Provincial Director Raul Tacaca and three other police chiefs have been reportedly ordered relieved by PNP chief Oscar Albayalde.

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