The European Union (EU) Delegation to the Philippines on Wednesday joined the international community in expressing its concern over the recent killing of nine activists in simultaneous police and military operations in the Calabarzon region.
In a statement, the EU welcomed the announcement made by the Philippine government to investigate the killings of the nine individuals by operatives of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines on March 7, 2021.
“Reports on the use of excessive force against unarmed individuals and alleged irregularities in the law enforcement operations have raised concerns,” the EU said.
The EU recalled the commitment made by the Philippines at the Human Rights Council to ensure accountability for human rights violations and abuses in accordance with due process under national courts of law, and in full compliance with its international human rights obligations.
During the February 5, 2021 meeting of the Sub-Committee on Good Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights under the EU-Philippines Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, the Delegation also recalled that both parties discussed strengthening accountability and investigative measures.
“The EU and the Philippines agreed on the need to acknowledge and to protect human rights defenders and enable their work in accordance with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders,” the European delegation added.
While looking forward to the results of the investigation on the killings, the EU conveyed its sincere condolences to the families of all the victims.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the United Nations rights office said they were “appalled” by the apparent arbitrary killing of the nine activists by Philippine security forces targeting alleged communist insurgents.
“We are appalled by the apparently arbitrary killing of nine activists,” Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters in Geneva.
The killing of the nine came two days after President Duterte ordered government troops to “ignore human rights” and kill Communist rebels.
“I’ve told the military and the police, that if they find themselves in an armed encounter with the communist rebels, kill them, make sure you really kill them, and finish them off if they are alive,” Duterte said in his regular TV talk to the people in Malacañang.
At least nine people were killed while six were arrested in separate operations conducted by government forces in Laguna, Rizal, and Batangas provinces.