CHR: Gov’t should protect all regardless of political ties
MANILA, Philippines – Reacting to the recent killing of three activists in the Bicol Region, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) urged the government on Monday to protect the rights of everyone regardless of their political affiliation.
Lawyer Jacqueline de Guia, CHR spokesperson, said the membership of slain activists Ryan Hubilla and Nelly Bagalasa in Karapatan and Neptali Morada in Bayan Muna should not have played a part in safeguarding their right to life.
“Regardless of their affiliation, as Filipinos and human beings, the victims’ rights especially their primordial right to life must be protected by the government. We cannot stress enough that swift justice need to be pursued to stop the normalization of violence in our society,” De Guia said.
“The killings have been continuing and escalating, but there is seemingly no proactive actions being done to protect human rights activists from another brash attack,” she added.
Last Saturday, June 15, Hubilla and Bagalasa, both rights workers, were shot dead in Sorsogon City, Sorsogon, by two men who calmly approached them.
On Monday morning — just two days after — in Naga City, Camarines Sur, Morada was gunned down while on his way to the Capitol Hall where he worked in the Office of the Vice Governor.
Hubilla, Bagalasa, and Morada operated in an area with an increased military presence, De Guia said.
“These are the recent alarming attacks in a spate of condemnable violence and hostility directed towards members of activist groups particularly in areas where there is increased military presence,” she explained. “We note that the Karapatan members were previously subjected to alleged periodic surveillance by government security forces.”
The attacks have been condemned by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary-General Renato Reyes Jr., Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares and Rep. Carlos Zarate.
De Guia urged members of the incoming 18th Congress to prioritize the passage of a bill seeking to protect activists.
“May these incidents propel the expedient passage of the Human Rights Defenders (HRD) Protection Bill when the 18th Congress opens to ensure prosecution of those that commit violations against HRDs,” she said.
“CHR-Region V has deployed a quick response team to probe and monitor the resolution of these injustices,” she noted.
Karapatan, Bayan Muna, and Bayan — which Morada was previously a part of as spokesperson — are some of the left-wing groups that the military is accusing of being supporters of communist rebels.
In previous statements, high-ranking officials — including the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deputy chief of staff for civil-military operations, Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. — said they had truckloads of evidence to prove the association of the three groups with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA)
This has been denied by members of the Makabayan bloc, particularly Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, saying that Parlade was merely trying to get attention so he could be appointed as AFP chief of staff.
(Editor: Alexander T. Magno)
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