De Lima denounces spate of arrests, killing of activists in Southern Tagalog


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has bewailed the rash of arrests and killing of activists in Southern Tagalog which happened two days after President Duterte ordered government forces to “kill” and “finish off” all communist rebels in the country.

De Lima, a known human rights defender here and abroad, said that these intensifying attacks and disregard for human rights warrant the attention and condemnation of the Filipino people and the international community.

“Whether it’s drugs, insurgency, COVID-19 or poverty, he [Duterte], indeed, governs through violence and killings. 2016 pa lang, pumapatay na ang rehimeng ito. Duterte’s latest marching order is just a reiteration and a reminder of his long-standing policy of brutally eliminating perceived enemies,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1041.

“Nananawagan ako para sa kagyat at totohanang imbestigasyon sa naganap na mass arrests at pagpatay sa mga aktibista sa Timog Katagalugan kahapon ng umaga. Kailangang matigil na ang walang habas na pag-atake sa karapatang pantao. Kailangan ding managot ang mga salarin,” she added.

Two days after Duterte instructed police and soldiers to “kill” and “finish off” communist rebels in encounters, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) mounted a deadly crackdown in Calabarzon last March 7.

In just one morning, police and soldiers have killed nine and arrested six individuals believed to be with activist groups in Southern Tagalog.

It may be recalled on March 5, two days prior to the crackdown, Duterte declared in a speech that “I’ve told the military and the police, that if they find themselves in an armed encounter with the communist rebels, kill them, make sure you really kill them, and finish them off if they are alive.”

De Lima, in a Twitter post, slammed Duterte’s duplicity saying, “When he spoke before the UN months ago, he tried to deceive the world with a barefaced lie that he and his government respect and uphold human rights. Now, he flaunts his true self: ‘Kill them. Finish them off. Don’t mind human rights.’ The duplicity of the man is staggering!”

De Lima also does not find it a coincidence that the massacre happened in the provinces under the jurisdiction of the AFP Southern Luzon Command, whose head is Lt. General Antonio Parlade, Jr., who is known as the poster boy of the Duterte regime’s brutal anti-insurgency campaign.

“He might be currently banned from red-tagging on Facebook but trust him to turn a day of rest and prayer into a bloody Sunday, Tokhang style. At talagang nangyari pa ang mga ito habang nagaganap ang isang Blue Mass for Police Officers sa Manila Cathedral. Talagang nakakagalit,” she said.

De Lima, a former justice secretary, reiterated that the people should not stop speaking out against and condemning all the killings in the country until the murderers are held accountable for their crimes.

“For this regime, government critics, activists and other truth-seekers can be, and are being branded as enemies of the State, making them targets of Duterte’s ‘kill, kill, kill’ policy. Kailangang magtuloy-tuloy ang pagkondena at paniningil. We will not stop until these murderers are held accountable for their crimes. End EJKs! Stop the attacks now!” she said.

Last year, De Lima filed Senate Bill No. 1842 which seeks to define and criminalize extrajudicial killings and related acts and guarantee state obligations to effectively investigate and properly document EJKs.

De Lima first filed SB No. 1197, also known as the “Anti-Extrajudicial Killing Act” during the 17th Congress and refiled the said bill this 18th Congress as SB No. 371, but it gathered dust in the Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee under the Chairmanship of Senator Richard Gordon. (30)

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