Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has deplored the unabated spate of killings in the country that further highlight the worsening culture of violence and impunity in the country promoted by the Duterte regime.
De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, made the statement following the recent killings of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultants and couple Eugenia Magpantay and Agaton Topacio.
“When will these lawless killings ever stop? Sa gitna ng krisis, mas pinalubha pa ng rehimeng ito ang mga karumal-dumal na pagpatay, na ang madalas biktima ay mga maralitang walang kalaban-laban, mga tagapagtanggol ng karapatang pantao, o di kaya naman ay kritiko ng baluktot na polisiya ng gobyerno,” she said.
“Nakababahala ang nagpapatuloy na karahasan at pamamaslang sa bansa na madalas ay hindi naman napapanagot ang may sala at nabibigyang hustisya ang biktima at kanilang pamilya,” she added.
Magpantay and Topacio were reportedly killed in an alleged gun battle with agents of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group last month.
The couple’s families denounced the claim of the police that the elderly and sickly couple resisted arrest even as they urged the Commission on Human Rights to investigate what they called as “tokhang-style murder.”
In her letter of condolences sent to the couple’s son, Atty. VJ Topacio, De Lima said the Filipinos have been hounded with the nanlaban narrative since Duterte came to power but admitted that she never thought that it would be used to the extent of justifying the killing of elderly and ailing couple.
“No matter the political affiliation, how can one not feel indignant over these killings? Just when we thought we’ve seen the worst when 72-year old Randy Echanis was murdered in cold blood. It is dubious and disconcerting,” she said.
“I read your statement and what struck me the most was when you said you could have defended your parents in court. Indeed, the same can be said about the cases of thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings under this regime,” she added.
Previously, De Lima also slammed the successive killings of lawyers and of an incumbent LGU official, Los Baños City Mayor Caesar Perez.
De Lima, a former justice secretary, called Perez’s killing as “another brazen assault on the human right against arbitrary deprivation of life and the constitutional, human right to due process of law.”
“We cannot be numbed or desensitized by this continuing cycle of violence and impunity. We cannot remain silent. Silence or apathy promotes this madness,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 988.
Amid all these, De Lima said she remains hopeful that truth will come out in the end and that perpetrators will be held accountable for their crimes. (30)