By Ellson Quismorio
Militant solons from the Makabayan bloc on Thursday slammed the House leadership for the Chamber’s failure to investigate the various reports of human rights violations under the Duterte administration.
“We have filed resolutions to probe the deaths of Kian de los Santos and Kulot who were killed in the anti-drug campaign, the killings of priests and activists and the killings of peasant and lumad leaders in Mindanao,” the Leftist bloc said in a statement.
“We have also filed resolutions to investigate violent dispersals of rallies and workers’ strikes. We have filed resolutions to probe the situation in Marawi and Mindanao and the reported human rights violations in the island, including the closures of alternative lumad schools. But, not one of these various cases has been heard,” the lawmakers pointed out.
The Makabayan bloc–one-time allies of the Duterte administration–is composed of seven party-list solons. They are Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, ACT Teachers Reps. Antonio Tinio and France Castro, Gabriela Reps. Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas, Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao and Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago.
The group also assailed the chairperson of the Committee on Human Rights for the omission. Zambales 2nd district Rep. Cheryl Deloso-Montalla chairs the House panel.
On Wednesday, Zarate and Tinio led the filing of House Resolution (HR) no.1973, which urges the House to conduct an investigation–in aid of legislation–into the “reports of human rights violations in Marawi and other grave concerns of the people of Marawi on the government’s post-Marawi siege rehabilitation plans.”
“We want to reiterate our appeal to the House leadership to hold hearings on these resolutions on human rights,” Zarate told reporters in a press conference the same day.
The Leftist faction, in its statement, noted that the House was able to conduct on-site hearings in areas where human rights violations were committed during the previous 16th Congress when Benigno S. Aquino III was still the president.
“Unfortunately, in the present Congress, even at the height of Oplan Tokhang, Oplan Kapayapaan, Martial Law and Oplan Tambay, not one of these resolutions have been heard,” they added.
“We are calling on the House leadership to also look at the interests of human rights victims and the exploited. We call on the leadership to immediately conduct hearings on the various resolutions that would look into their plight,” they stressed.
Makabayan was the first to bolt the huge Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban)-led coalition that formed in Congress following Rodrigo Duterte’s landslide victory in the May 2016 Palace race. Duterte chairs PDP-Laban.
The seven solons left the pro-administration alliance in September 2017.