Several senators seek probe into spate of unlawful killings in PH
MANILA, Philippines — Several senators are pushing for a Senate investigation into the spate of unlawful killings in the country, following the slaying of a doctor and her husband in Negros Oriental.
The senators sought a probe via Senate Resolution No. 599, which urged the appropriation committees to conduct an inquiry into the spate of recent killings “with the end in view of attaining justice for the slain of victims.”
The inquiry also seeks to “create policies that will help restore the law and order of the country.”
“At a time of the biggest health crisis the country has ever seen, I am alarmed that this anti-communist agenda reigned over the literal health and survival of the Filipino people. Dr. [Mary Rose] Sancelan and her husband are only few of the victims of a failing and senseless red-tagging campaign hellbent on crippling our democracy,” Senator Risa Hontiveros in a statement on Friday.
“This attack is only one of the many horrific killings in the country, legitimized by an administration that has distorted the meaning of human rights,” she added.
Hontiveros filed the resolution while Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Richard Gordon, Nancy Binay, Joel Villanueva, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, and Leila de Lima co-signed it.
Hontiveros, in filing the resolution, also spoke out against “vicious and deadly practice of red-tagging individuals.”
This comes as Sancelan, head of the local Inter-Agency Task Force and the sole health doctor in Guihulngan City, was accused by anti-communist vigilante group “Kagubak” of being a supporter of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, before her death.
“I ask everyone, especially our own government officials, to cease all careless and pernicious red-tagging of our people. Innocent lives are at stake. When you openly vilify and tag civilians as communist rebels, you only lend credence to the suspicion that you have blood on your hands,” the senator said.
“At the same time, there are also others who were not red-tagged but have become victims of these killings. We need to look into this at once,” she added.
The resolution also cited the “litany” of killings that occurred in 2020, including the slaying of lawyer Jovencio Senados, peasant leader and activist Randall Echanis, former Education Director of Human Rights Alliance Karapatan Zara Alvarez, elderly couple and former peace consultants Agaton Topacio and Eugenia Magpantay, among many others.
“The killings that occurred in the latter half of the year have set a disturbing trend of unidentified gunmen killing lawyers, doctors, journalists, and activists in broad daylight, without fear of arrest or apprehension,” Hontiveros went on.
“The increasing brazenness shows that the law enforcement authorities have lost control of the country’s peace and order,” she added.
She then called on the Philippine law enforcers to work “tirelessly, endlessly, properly, and lawfully” to catch the assailants and to prevent more unlawful and vigilante killings from happening.
“Our law enforcement must prove to the Filipino public that law and order is still a reality that they are working towards. Let us ensure that the perpetrators of these abominable crimes are brought to justice,” she said.
“There is no peace when there is no justice,” Hontiveros added.
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