Women’s groups denounce killing of activists in Calabarzon

Published March 8, 2021, 11:32 AM

by Gabriela Baron

Two women’s groups have denounced the killing of at least nine activists and arrest of seven others in a series of raids conducted by police in Laguna, Rizal, Batangas, and Cavite provinces.

(Photo from CEGP)

The crackdown came two days after President Rodrigo Duterte told state forces to “kill” and “finish off” communist rebels in an encounter.

Center for Women’s Resources (CWR) raised alarm over the series of red-tagging and the controversial Anti-Terror Law.

“[E]veryone is a target of such grave human rights violations,” said in a statement issued Sunday, March 7. 

“We enjoin the call to end these terror attacks against human rights defenders, peasant and labor leaders, activists and progressive individuals and organizations in the country. We demand urgent and unconditional release for the arrested individuals and justice for the victims of state-perpetrated killings,” the group underscored.

Girls Peace, in a separate statement also dated March 7, likewise decried the “tokhang-style” crackdown against community organizers and activists.

“We live in a kind of system where activists and human rights defenders are silenced or killed while murderers are protected and glorified,” the group said.

“Enough is enough! We do not want to continue living in this kind of system, where ‘peace’ is tokenistic, and a mere reflection of the oppressive status quo. For as long as the system enables these kinds of injustices, there is no peace.”

Among those killed were BAYAN-Cavite Secretary General Manny Asuncion; fisherfolk leaders Chai Lemita-Evangelista and Ariel Evangelista; and Michael Dasigao and Mark Lee Coros Bacasno of urban poor group Sikkad Montalban, according to human rights group Karaptan.

Meanwhile, those arrested included labor leader Steve Mendoza, Kilusang Mayo Uno-Ulalia spokesperson Elizabeth “Mags” Camoral, Karapatan paralegal Nimfa Lanzanas, and Eugene Eugenio of COURAGE-Rizal.

On Sunday, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Debold Sinas maintained that the region-wide raids against personalities with alleged links to communist rebels is “valid,” saying the fact that courts have issued search warrants for those operations indicate that they were all legitimate operations.

The arrests were made after search warrants were issued on March 2 on illegal possession of explosives. It was signed by Manila Trial Court Batch 4 Judge Jose Lorenzo dela Rosa. (With a report from Aaron Recuenco)