Gutoc says Duterte ‘encourages impunity,’ ’emboldens cops to kill farmers’
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has “emboldened” policemen to kill farmers and “encouraged the culture of impunity” in the country by way of his threats, opposition senatorial candidate Samira Gutoc said Wednesday.
In a statement, the peace advocate noted the Chief Executive’s speech in October 2018, ordering the police to shoot farmers who violently resist arrest.
“Mr. President, in October last year after the massacre of nine sugar farmers who were staging an occupy activity in Hacienda Nene of Sagay City, Negros Occidental, you said your order to policemen was to shoot them. And now your words have come to life, emboldening unscrupulous cops to summarily execute farmers, and encouraging the culture of impunity in our country,” Gutoc pointed out.
Duterte said in a speech at the birthday party of former Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano in 2018: “Do not do it ever again because I have issued an order to the police. If you insist on occupying an area, like what happened in Bacolod, I will order your arrest… My order to the police is to shoot them. If they resist violently, shoot them, and if they die, I do not care.”
Gutoc issued the statement after 21 organizations conducted a fact-finding investigation into the killings of 14 farmers in two towns in Negros Oriental, and found that the farmers were “summarily executed” contrary to the claim of police.
“Coincidence? I think not. The police won’t be emboldened if you had not backed them,” the former ARMM assemblywoman said.
The opposition senatorial contender also appealed that Duterte stops his alleged directive and his “irresponsible red-tagging” of critics.
“You are accountable here, sir. You are allowing the killing of farmers,” she lamented.
The opposition slate’s only woman candidate also said Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s statement that families of farmers should just file cases against the police was “insensitive.”
“Parang bahala na lang ba ang mga pamilya ng magsasaka na humanap ng hustisya? Ni hindi man lang sila kayang tulungan ng administrasyong ito?” Gutoc lamented.
“Mr. Panelo, I am sorry, but you are wrong. Yes, the President and the administration has allowed police brutality and he continues to tolerate police abuse with every violent threat he issues, and with every inaction and indifference you show,” she added.
Panelo further assured that Duterte would “not allow police brutality nor will he tolerate police abuse.”
Other progressive House members earlier said Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde should be fired following the death of 14 farmers in Canlaon City and two towns in Negros Oriental province last March 30. Authorities said these were coordinated operations by the PNP and the Army against illegal firearms held by suspected communist rebels. /jpv
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