Dispatch from Crame No. 1,008: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s Statement on the Tumandok killings


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I join the call for a prompt and thorough investigation into the killings of 9 Tumandok leaders and the arrest of 17 others on December 30 by combined forces of the AFP and the PNP in Panay. If the reports I received were accurate, the killings were done “tokhang” style, with State forces barging into their homes at dawn, under the pretext of serving warrants, and eventually killing them because they allegedly resisted arrest. A familiar scenario that has been happening over and over again. These leaders were all victims of rabid red-tagging.

State-sponsored killings are already beyond contempt but to launch a systematic attack, or in this case, under the guise of a Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations (SEMPO), on indigenous people for defending their ancestral land is a whole new level of evil.

Is a year of bloodbath not enough that it has to end with a mass murder in one day? Hindi pa ba quota ang rehimeng ito sa patayan at kailangang tapusin ang taong ito sa isang masaker ng mga pambansang minorya?

Red-tagging has turned into a weapon against freedoms of speech and association, and has become a veritable death sentence to critics of the government. Ka Randy Echanis was red-tagged before he was brutally murdered, and so were the others like Zara Alvarez, Agaton Topacio, Eufemia Magpantay, and Dr. Mary Rose Sancelan. And as much as we wish that every death will be the last, we know that persecution and mayhem will persist as long as the law is being weaponized with impunity to stifle dissent.

Do we really believe that the decades of insurgency will be resolved by labeling those with legitimate claims or grievances as enemies of the state and treating resistance as terrorism?


Access the handwritten copy of Dispatch from Crame No. 1008, here: https://issuu.com/senatorleilam.delima/docs/dispatchno1008

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