Andaya ambush try calls for gov’t action vs pre-poll violence – CHR
MANILA, Philippines — It may still be over 11 months before the actual 2022 National Elections, but the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is already worried about election-related violence, especially with the ambush of former Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya last Tuesday.
In a statement on Thursday, CHR said that they are alarmed over the failed attack against Andaya, urging government and law enforcement agencies to tighten protection measures to avoid similar incidents.
“Although Rep. Andaya Jr. and his companions survived the attempted murder, the CHR denounces the vigilante-style violence and calls on local authorities to fully investigate the case to determine the real motive behind the attack, and to prevent the possibility of graver human rights violations,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said.
“Now that the national and local elections are approaching, the Commission urges the government to tighten its protection measures to mitigate possible election-related violence. This increase in vigilante activities has negative implications on the country’s security and the democratic process in general,” she added.
Andaya believes that the attack against him was politically motivated. His opponents may have mistaken his visit to Pili, Camarines Sur, as a sign that he is campaigning for a local elective position, specifically as the provincial governor.
The former lawmaker hinted at this motive after observing that the attack happened just after his security detail was pulled out.
Earlier, Andaya also revealed in a text message to INQUIRER.net that initial police reports contradicted his observations, adding that it may impede the investigation and court proceedings.
The police report, Andaya said, supposedly stated that a man aboard a black KTM motorcycle was the assailant who fled towards Naga City afterward. However, he noted that there were two suspects aboard a Honda TMX motorcycle based on his observations — not a KTM as previously stated.
Andaya said he knows the difference between the two motorcycles as he borrowed one from a friend. Also, he stressed that the assailant fled in the direction of Pili, not Naga.
According to CHR, it is also worried that such attacks may be made on ordinary citizens if they could be carried out against high-profile individuals like Andaya — a former lawmaker, a former budget secretary, and a known ally of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
CHR also assured the public that it would be doing its own investigation of the incident.
“We also emphasize that if such attack against a high-profile individual could be done in broad daylight, ordinary citizens are more vulnerable to be victims of this kind of violation,” De Guia said.
“If it will go unpunished, tolerated impunity would contribute to the perceived insecurity among communities and could easily lead to a breakdown of law and order,” she noted.
Elections in the Philippines have always been highly contested, with some local disputes leading to spates of violence. In November 2009, the worst election-related violence happened when assailants killed 58 people who tried to file the certificate of candidacy of then Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu.
Mangudadatu was running for the gubernatorial seat of Maguindanao, which was then occupied by the Ampatuan clan. Last December 2019, former town mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., his siblings, and other individuals were found guilty of staging the massacre.
The attack was also the biggest single-day attack on journalists, with 32 media workers died during the incident.
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