Makabayan solons slam killing of Bayan Muna coordinator in Iloilo
MANILA, Philippines – The Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives have condemned the killing of a Bayan Muna coordinator in Iloilo City, saying the perpetrators may have taken advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to carry out violence.
Bayan Muna Reps. Carlos Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite, and Eufemia Cullamat called on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to investigate the spate of violence in the country during the lockdown, especially after the killing of Jory Porquia.
Porquia was shot by two gunmen early Thursday morning while he was outside his house in Barangay Sto. Niño in Iloilo. Police officers said that they are still trying to establish the motive of the attack.
“We in Bayan Muna and the Makabayan bloc condemn in the strongest terms the cowardly killing of Ka Jory by four hooded assassins… Ka Jory was a vocal critic of the anti-people and anti-poor policies of the administration and was busy setting up feeding programs and community kitchens for those affected by the lockdown,” Zarate said in a statement.
“Again, we are reiterating our call for the (CHR) and the (UNHRC) to investigate the many cases of police and military violations of human rights not just in the National Capital Region (NCR) but in the whole country as well, like the brutal killing of Ka Jory. It appears that the coronavirus pandemic is now being taken advantage to further attack the people and curtail rights,” he added.
Meanwhile, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro said that President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration should be blamed for Porquia’s killing, as the government has tagged some organizations conducting relief operations as terrorists and members of communist rebel groups.
“These kinds of threats and red-tagging lead to more human rights violations and killings of activists who have been in the forefront in the delivery of aid to communities often neglected by the government,” Castro explained.
According to Zarate, Porquia was helping the local government of Iloilo in feeding residents affected by the community quarantine due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. However, he noted that police officers were not happy with activists helping in the relief efforts.
“It was also reported that the local police tried to stop Ka Jory in conducting feeding programs last week,” he added. “Malinaw ang dahilan ng kanyang duwag na pagkapaslang: siya ay aktibista na nilalabanan ang mga kontra-mamamayan at kontra-mahihirap na patakaran.” Zarate noted.
“Though Mayor (Jerry) Treñas welcomed the Bayan Muna initiative in assisting the LGU in educating and feeding quarantined residents, this did not sit well with the PNP… Apparently, the PNP gets instructions from their generals ignoring the policies of local chief executives,” he added.
The Makabayan bloc has opposed several incidents of violence in the country and growing fears of militarization amid the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon and other areas.
Recently, the groups also spoke against the death of former Army Cpl. Winston Ragos, who was shot dead by a police officer near a quarantine checkpoint even if people told him that the ex-soldier was suffering from a mental illness.
“These attacks must be stopped and justice must be served. We have to remind time and again members of law enforcement groups and state security forces that the enemy is the corona virus and not the people,” Zarate claimed.
“We call for the end of this killing-spree. There is no room for political persecution of activists and cause-oriented groups engaged in humanitarian and relief efforts, especially in the time of a pandemic,” Kabataan party-list added.
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