CHR to probe ‘Calabarzon 9’ killings, cites concern over Duterte’s kill order
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights will pursue independent investigations on simultaneous crackdown operations conducted by state forces against militant leaders that resulted in the killing of nine activists and arrest of six others in Southern Tagalog on Sunday.
CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia on Monday said the commission found the number of deaths “most concerning” considering the pattern of “prevalent red-tagging and escalating attacks against activists.”
The police and military conducted several raids on progressive groups in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, and Rizal on Sunday, which led to the deaths and arrests.
“Despite several commitments by the Philippine Government—domestically and internationally—to uphold, respect, and protect human rights, we have yet to see a concrete response to our repeated plea for tangible reduction of violence on the ground,” De Guia said in a statement.
“All necessary actions must be done to demonstrate our genuine regard for life and to truly address the impunity and stop further killings,” she added.
The CHR also expressed concern on President Rodrigo Duterte’s earlier order to the police and military to “shoot and kill right away” communist rebels who are holding guns, and “don’t mind human rights.”
“We stress that, while CHR condemns the use of arms and violence to overthrow a government, human rights must be respected at all times. Crimes must be punished under the guidance of the rule of law and due process,” De Guia said.
“Words matter and such words can embolden some to act with abuse and impunity,” she added.
She reminded public officials and employees to observe rules of conduct under Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
The CHR added that the government should fight impunity and show adherence to the rule of law by investigating the deaths and attacks against activists, as well as other allegations of extrajudicial killings of human rights defenders.
“No perpetrator must be spared from the full force of law,” it said.
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