Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima today expressed deep concern over the recent killings of human rights workers in the country, saying that they have become the latest targets of extrajudicial and summary killings under the vengeful Duterte regime.
De Lima, former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), said it is very discomforting that the latest attacks on human rights defenders were intended to silence dissent.
“Wala nang sinasanto ang berdugong rehimeng Duterte. Kabataan, kababaihan, nakatatanda man o alagad ng simbahan. Hindi pa nakuntento sa pagpatay sa mga walang boses sa lipunan–mahihirap at mga naisasantabi–target ngayon ng gobyernong ito na patahimikin ang mga tumitindig at nakikipaglaban para sa karapatang pantao,” she said in an official statement released from Camp Crame.
Recently, three prominent human rights defenders, namely: Fr. Marcelito “Tito” Paez, Pastor Lovelito Quiñones and Elisa Badayos, have reportedly been killed by still unidentified-assailants.
Based on news reports, Paez was shot by motorcycle-riding assailants hours after he assisted in facilitating the release of political prisoner and organizer of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon in Nueva Ecija, Rommel Tucay, on Dec. 4.
Also a religious leader who was alleged as a member of the New People’s Army (NPA), Quiñones was reportedly shot dead by the Police Regional Mobile Group in Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro while he was headed home on Dec. 3.
Badayos, Negros Oriental coordinator of rights group Karapatan, was purportedly gunned down by unidentified armed men at Barangay Nangka in Bayawan City, Dumaguete City, last month.
“Ito na ang pagbabagong hatid ni Duterte. Pagbabagong pumapatay sa mahihirap at kumikitil sa karapatang pantao,” De Lima said.
The Senator from Bicol said it is now the perfect time for both the public and the elected government officials alike to speak up and to not be cowed to publicly condemn the spate of killings under the Duterte regime.
“Sa huli, wala na rin tayong ibang masisisi kundi ang ating mga sarili kung patuloy tayong magbibingi-bingihan sa mga sumisigaw ng hustisya, at mananatili tayong tikom ang bibig sa pang-aapi, sa mga pag-abuso, at pagpapatahimik sa mga lumalaban para sa ating mga karapatan,” she said.
She further urged the CHR, the Senate, and other related agencies to conduct an impartial and fair investigation into the unlawful deaths in the country to hold offenders liable of their actions.
De Lima, a staunch advocate for human dignity, was the first public official who called for a Senate investigation into the spate of extrajudicial killings under the administration’s murderous war on drugs barely two weeks after she assumed office.
Even in detention, she continues to speak up against the murderous policies of the Duterte administration that resulted in the death of thousands of suspected drug offenders as well as innocent children and students.