DOJ meeting with kin of Calabarzon raid victims ‘very encouraging’ – Bayan
MANILA, Philippines — The meeting between Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and the families of the nine people who were killed during the police raids in Calabarzon last March 7 was “very encouraging,” progressive group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said on Wednesday.
“Families of the victims of Bloody Sunday and the wife of labor leader Dandy Miguel today met with the Secretary of Justice and officials of the A035 Task Force as they seek justice for the deaths of the Southern Tagalog activists. This is the first such meeting that happened since the March 7 Bloody Sunday incident,” Renato Reyes, Bayan secretary-general, said in a statement.
“We found the meeting very encouraging as the process of investigation as well as the participation of witnesses were clarified. We will continue to seek justice for those who were killed and unjustly detained,” he added.
The AO35 Task Force is so named after Administrative Order No. 35, which created the Inter-Agency Committee On Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons.
According to Reyes, the survivors mentioned during the meeting their fears, as they believe were are not safe in the communities where they live.
“The survivors and witnesses also expressed fear for their safety as their communities are militarized. This should be addressed in the course of the investigation,” he explained.
The Calabarzon raids, dubbed by progressive groups as “Bloody Sunday,” were a series of law enforcement operations by the Philippine National Police (PNP).
PNP insisted that the operations were legitimate as they were able to recover firearms from those killed and those arrested. Some of the suspects were killed because they fought back against police officers, it added.
According to PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana, 37 firearms were seized during the raids, along with grenades and various explosives.
But accounts of the activists’ relatives said that they were summarily executed and that the firearms were merely planted.
Several organizations both here and abroad have condemned the incident, with the United Nations releasing a statement saying that it was “appalled” by the attacks on activists.
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