The Council for People’s Development and Governance (CPDG) strongly denounces the continuing attacks against development workers, human rights defenders, and other activists. The March 7, 2021 attacks in separate incidents in Cavite, Batangas, Laguna and Rizal provinces – now referred to as “Bloody Sunday” – were carried out “tokhang style” as used by police in the government’s anti-drug war campaign.
Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra reported to the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council that more than half of the thousands of police anti-drug operations violated protocols or rules of engagement. In his report, the DoJ secretary said the police claim of “nanlaban” was not backed by evidence. The killings were simply reported as cases of “nanlaban”.
The same “tokhang” style of execution is carried out in joint police and military operations justified as against so-called Communist-terrorist groups (CTGs). Activists are baselessly accused of being armed “terrorists” with the help of cooperative judges.
“There is a clear pattern of abuse of law by state security forces against critical civil society groups. With the help of compliant judges, the police and military are planting firearms and explosives to justify search warrants and arrest orders which are then used as the pretext for ‘tokhang style’ assassinations”, said CPDG spokesperson Liza Maza.
The “Bloody Sunday” joint police and military operations led to six (6) activists being killed and nine (9) others arrested, according to police reports.
“Pres. Duterte explictly told his security forces to ignore human rights and kill ‘all’ armed Leftists,” recalled Maza, “which is giving them license to kill even unarmed civilians as long as this is given specious justification as ‘nanlaban’.” She also stressed that a government that does not follow the basic minimum of human rights standards has no moral authority to rule.
Maza stressed that the Duterte administration is systematically branding expressing dissent and being critical of government policies as terrorism. Yet, she said, “It is Pres. Duterte’s authoritarian governance that is spreading state terrorism against the Filipino people.”
“The community of nations cannot support this kind of governance and keep silent on the worsening reign of impunity in the country,” asserts Maza.
CPDG reiterates its appeal for urgent action on widespread calls for justice against worsening attacks on activists and ordinary citizens by state forces and for the government to pursue peace based on justice.#