Makabayan bloc solons on Sunday, March 7 said President Duterte was indeed serious in his order to “shoot and kill” and “ignore human rights” when the military staged a series of “tokhang-style raids” that resulted in deaths and arrests of legitimate dissenters in Southern Luzon provinces.
The members of the House minority bloc said the killings and arrests started nearly in an instant that Duterte gave the signal.
Nine persons were reportedly killed as the military swooped down on offices and residences of alleged leaders and members of organizations that government authorities linked to communist rebels.
Among those slain was Mary Asuncion, coordinator of the Cavite Chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan. Six others were reportedly arrested during the series of raids conducted in Batangas, Cavite, Rizal and Laguna.
House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, together with fellow Bayan Muna Reps. Ferdinand Gaite and Eufemia Cullamat, condemned the Sunday killings.
“It is supposed to be a Sabbath Day today, but, the fascists and their enablers made it a Bloodbath Day by murdering innocent civilians, and, by planting evidences for trumped-up cases,” stated Zarate.
Asst. Minority Leader and Gabriela Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas said the crackdown “was meant to instill fear among the growing people’s movement against Duterte’s bloody regime.”
She noted that the ”extrajudicial killings” and series of illegal arrests came ahead of the scheduled massive protest action on the International Working Women’s Day on Monday, March 8.
According to Brosas aside from Asuncion, another woman trade union leader was also killed. She described the attacks as “brutal”.
Kabataan Parytlist Rep. Sarah Jane Elago enjoined those who condemn the military actions to join the indignation rally to be held infront of the Commission on Human Rights offices in Quezon City.
“Stop this murderous rampage!!! Search warrants are weaponized to crackdown on activists, peasant, trade union organizers and human rights defenders,” said Elago.
Zarate said the Duterte government had clearly put into motion a modus operandi aimed at silencing dissent and protest against the excesses of his government.
“First, they would red tag groups and individuals. Then, the victims would be put under surveillance and harassement. Last, their homes or offices would be raided, evidence planted on them or they would be killed. This highly condemnable modus has gone on for so long and this has to be stopped,” the minority lawmaker said.
For his part, Gaite said: “Just last Friday, Pres.Duterte in a speech in Cagayan de Oro told state forces to kill armed rebels. But, these forces do not distinguish between armed rebels or activists, they just kill then say ‘nanlaban’ then plant firearms and explosives.” Cullamat appealed to international human rights groups and governments to join the call for an end to the killings.
“We also hope that the International Criminal Court (ICC) will start their preliminary investigation soon on the Duterte administration’s extra-judicial killings that he himself keep on encouraging last Friday,” said Cullamat.