Nine people were killed while six others were arrested as police and military forces conducted a series of raids on the offices and houses of leaders and members of groups being linked to the communist rebels in the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Rizal and Batangas on Sunday, March 7.
Dubbed as COPLAN ASVAL, the operations targeted what the police described as Communist Terrorist Group personalities in Region 4A using search warrants issued by at least two judges. Based on the police data, a total of 24 search warrants were implemented.
Among the units that participated were the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, the Special Action Force and the 202nd Brigade of the Philippine Army.
Police confirmed that a total of nine people were killed– six in Rizal, two in Batangas and one in Cavite. On the other hand, six people were also arrested, three in Rizal and three in Laguna. A total of nine people, according to the police, eluded the operations.
In a statement, human rights group Karapatan confirmed the death of Mary Asuncion, coordinator of the Cavite chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan; Chai Lemita-Evangelista and Ariel Evangelista in a raid in Nasugbu, Batangas. Asuncion was reportedly killed during the raid at the office of the Workers’ Assistance Center in Dasmariñas, Cavite while the Evangelista couple, leaders of a fisherfolk group, were killed inside their house.
“Melvin Dasigao and Mark Lee Coros Bacasno of urban poor group Sikkad Montalban were also reportedly killed in raids in Montalban, Rizal,” said Karapatan in a statement.
Meanwhile, labor leader Esteban Mendoza, the vice president of Olalia – Kilusang Mayo Uno; and, BAYAN – Laguna spokesperson Elizabeth Camoral were also arrested in separate police raids in Cabuyao, Laguna. Nimfa Lanzanas, 61, a Karapatan paralegal to political prisoners and member of Kapatid – Timog Katagalugan, was also arrested in a raid in Calamba, Laguna.
Karapatan Secretary General Tina Palabay said the raids were conducted either at the offices of the arrested and killed leaders and members of various militant groups, or in their homes. She branded the raids as tokhang-style police raids.
Tokhang is the aggressive anti-drugs operations wherein police are accused of executing drug pushers and users.
“Nothing could be more apt than calling this day a ‘Bloody Sunday.’ The fascist Duterte regime spares no day in its murderous campaign of State terror with the arrests and killings of labor leaders, organizers, activists, and human rights workers in tokhang- style raids Southern Tagalog today — along with peddling the same lies and dirty tactics, from the bogus search warrants, the ‘nanlaban’ (suspectes allegedly engaging cops in a gunfight) narrative to the tanim-ebidensiya (planting of evidence) scheme to justify these arrests and killings,” said Palabay in a statement.