Filing of murder charges in ‘Bloody Sunday’ raid big step forward for human rights community – De Lima


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima welcomed the filing of murder charges against 17 police officers over the killing of two of nine activists killed during the “Bloody Sunday” operations in CALABARZON last March 2021.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, said the move is a welcome step in ensuring justice and accountability.

“I laud the step taken by the NBI in filing murder complaints against 17 cops, reportedly from the PNP-CIDG CALABARZON, over the killing of two of the nine activists killed during the ‘Bloody Sunday’ operations in March 2021,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1205.

“These development in the Bloody Sunday raid cases is a big step forward for the human rights community. Lalo na kung iisipin natin ang mga buhay at kalayaan na isinakripisyo.”

Kaya hindi puwedeng masanay tayo sa namamayaning sistema ng kawalang-katarungan, kahit paulit-ulit na ang patayan at pag-atake sa mamamayan,” she added.

Reportedly, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) filed the case before the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the killing of activists and partners Ariel Evangelista and Ana Mariz “Chai” Lemita-Evangelista in Nasugbu, Batangas.

According to the six-page complaint, the NBI found that the cops who implemented a search warrant on the Evangelista couple had a “deliberate intent to kill.”

“Truly, this is the only proper turn that this case could take, especially given the evidence of irregularities in an operation that was supposedly merely for the implementation of a search warrant,” De Lima said.

The NBI said the police officers and personnel involved in the case were from the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) CALABARZON, but Justice Undersecretary Adrian Sugay said the names of the 17 police officers will only be made public once the Office of the Prosecutor issues a subpoena.

The Evangelista couple were among the nine activists killed on March 7, 2021, during the joint and simultaneous operations by the PNP and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal provinces, now known as “Bloody Sunday.”

De Lima said the findings of the NBI that there was “deliberate intention to kill” the Evangelista couple in the “Bloody Sunday” raids is not surprising.

“It however, remains sickening and horrifying especially because we know that this may be the fate of the other activists, drug suspects, and ordinary people in the many still unresolved cases of extrajudicial killings in our country. This could also happen to anyone of us,” she said.

The lady Senator from Bicol further said that the filing of murder charges by the NBI against the state agents who were involved in the killing of the couple “should be a warning to law enforcers never to allow themselves to be used as weapons against the very people they vowed to serve and protect.

“Kahit gaano pa man kahaba at kasalimuot ang proseso, sa huli mananaig pa rin ang katotohanan,” she added.

Last March, De Lima filed Proposed Senate Resolution (SR) No. 681 urging the Congress to thoroughly investigate the said joint operations that led to the killings of activists in the CALABARZON region.

In the said proposed Resolution, she underscored the need to scrutinize the Duterte administration’s counter-insurgency campaign in relation to the widespread allegations of human rights violation. (30)

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