6 proadmin senators seek end to ‘impunity’
MANILA, Philippines — Six senators allied with the administration on Monday pressed for an end to the “culture of impunity” gripping the country in the middle of a pandemic, citing at least 15 extrajudicial killings in the last six months.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senators Grace Poe, Juan Edgardo Angara, Sherwin Gatchalian, Nancy Binay, and Joel Villanueva filed Senate Resolution No. 600, which sought a legislative inquiry into the “series of unlawful killings of citizens, including doctors, lawyers, journalists, and members of other professions.”
The objective, according to them, was to identify gaps in law enforcement, ensure the attainment of justice for all victims, and “break the culture of impunity, especially among law enforcement agencies.”
“In a span of six months from July to December this year, at least 15 doctors, lawyers, journalists, and other members of the community were unlawfully killed,” the senators said, enumerating the growing list of victims, including a Red-tagged health officer, Dr. Mary Rose Sancelan, and her husband, who were shot dead last week in Negros Oriental.
Two other measures filed recently in the Senate called attention to the growing number of summary executions or enforced disappearances in the country.
On Thursday, opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros filed proposed Senate Resolution No. 599 aimed at seeking justice for the Sancelans, who were killed in Guihulngan City a year after an anti-communist vigilante group accused Mary Rose, the city health officer, of having ties with the New People’s Army.
The chair of the Senate women and children panel sounded the alarm on the spate of summary executions of activists and government critics, many of whom were unfairly identified by government forces as enemies of the state.
On Dec. 14, Sen. Imee Marcos also filed proposed Senate Resolution No. 593 seeking an investigation into the “alarming deaths and disappearances of members of the legal community.”
“In recent months, the entire legal community has been shocked by the successive assaults committed against members of the bar, leading to serious harm, disappearances, and for some, their untimely death,” she said.
In the House of Representatives, the Makabayan bloc called for the immediate and unconditional release of the “Human Rights Day 7”—a journalist and six labor organizers —who were arrested on International Human Rights Day on Dec. 10.
“We call for an immediate, independent probe of the illegal arrest of the seven human rights defenders, and into the irregularities of the issuance of search warrants and police conduct of search and seizure operations,” the progressive lawmakers said in a resolution filed on Monday.
The Human Rights Day 7 refers to journalist Lady Ann Salem and labor organizers Dennise Velasco, Rodrigo Esparago, Joel Demate, Mark Ryan Cruz, Romina Astudillo, and Jaymie Gregorio Jr., who were arrested in separate predawn raids in their homes and offices.
The police claimed they recovered explosives and guns from the seven activists, who face charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. —With a report from Julie M. Aurelio INQ
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