Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has denounced the recent murder of human rights advocate Bernardino Patigas whose death adds up to the snowballing record of human rights defenders killed in Negros Island under the Duterte administration.
De Lima, a known human rights defender, said Patigas’ murder raises suspicions that there is a death squad targeting rights advocates in the province because his killing “hews closely” to the type of killings that transpired in the past months.
“One death is one too many. When they kill Bernardino Patigas because of his beliefs and principles, the killers also attack all of us who value human rights, truth, justice and freedom. This regime is killing these values. We have to fight back!” she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 509.
A councilor of Escalante City in Negros Occidental, Patigas was reportedly gunned down while driving his motorcycle along the highway of Brgy. Washington, Negros Occidental after attending an election campaign activity last April 22. He died instantly after being shot twice, in his leg and forehead.
According to human rights advocacy group Karapatan, Patigas, who spoke on issues concerning genuine land reform and human rights violation in Negros, was the 48th human rights advocate killed in the province under the present administration.
To help stop the reign of terror and violence from persisting in the country under Duterte’s leadership, De Lima said the Filipino people are duty-bound to reject the candidates he promotes for the upcoming midterm elections, including those who remain silent amid the mass atrocities happening in the country.
“Kung eleksyon ang naging tulay nila sa kapangyarihan, sa eleksyon din natin putulin ang tulay para hindi na makarating sa poder ang mga kampon ni Duterte. Singilin natin sila sa Mayo 13,” she said.
“Huwag iboto ang mga kandidatong sumusuporta at tahimik sa kabila ng kaliwa’t kanang patayan. Lalong magiging mapanganib ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino sa mga ganitong klaseng pulitiko,” she added.
The lady Senator from Bicol also pointed out the importance of tirelessly demanding accountability for the unabated killings that target human rights defenders who died fighting for their causes and advocacies.
“Sapul nang maupo si Duterte nagkagulo-gulo na ang bansa. Dumilim na ang hinaharap ng bawat Pilipino. Lahat nang hawakan niya dumudumi, nasisira, binabastos, at winawalang-hiya. Ganyan ang nangyayari sa hustisya ngayon. Kada araw ay may pinapatay na mahirap at kapwa nating nagtatanggol sa karapatang pantao at hustisyang panlipunan,” she said.
“Hindi na maibabalik ang buhay ni Ginoong Patigas at ang mga pinaslang ng rehimeng ito. Pero may pananagutan tayong panatilihing buhay ang kanilang laban at ala-ala. Tagumpay ang diyablo kung hindi tayo kikibo at maniningil,” she added. Less than a week after the death of Patigas, former Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) President Mark Garcia and village councilor Michael Garcia were reportedly killed in an ambush while on the campaign trail in Negros Occidental last April 25.