Probe on March 7 deaths in Southern Tagalog provinces continues – DOJ

Published December 20, 2021, 3:28 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Department of Justice

The inter-agency committee on extrajudicial killings (EJKs) assured on Monday, Dec. 20, a non-stop investigation into the deaths that resulted in the joint police-military operations in Southern Tagalog provinces last March 7.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Undersecretary Adrian Ferdinand S. Sugay made the assurance after his meeting with Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra and members of the committee, known as the AO 35 Inter-Agency Committee on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons.

Sugay said the meeting focused on updates on “investigations into the Calabarzon incidents” and “general task force administrative issues.”

He said the committee “will be issuing further updates as soon as the other reports come in.”

Last March 7, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) conducted raids to ferret out persons suspected as members of communist terrorist groups in the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon. The operations resulted in the deaths of nine activists.

Guevarra directed the AO 35 committee to investigate the incident, now known as “Bloody Sunday.”

One case has resulted in the filing of a murder complaint against 17 policemen before the Office of the City Prosecutor (OCP) in Dasmarinas City, Cavite, concerning the death of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Cavite (BAYAN Cavite) secretary general Emmanuel Asuncion.

Reports stated that Asuncion was killed during a raid at the office of the Workers’ Assistance Center (WAC) in Dasmarinas City.

Guevarra had earlier said that the committee will not investigate the deaths of cousins Puroy and Randy dela Cruz, both of whom were indigenous people’s rights advocates and also killed last March 7.

“The deaths of Puroy dela Cruz and Randy dela Cruz were not included in the probe as no cause-oriented connection was established,” Guevarra explained.