Manila, Philippines – Anakpawis Party-list Representative Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao today condemned to the highest possible terms yesterday’s brutal attack on human rights defenders who were holding a fact-finding mission (FFM) in Bayawan City in Negros Oriental. Two victims were killed, Elisa Badayos, coordinator of human rights group Karapatan – Central Visayas and Elioterio Moises, member of the local farmers’ group Mantapi Ebwan Farmers Association, while a member of Kabataan Party-list was critically wounded.
The 30-man FFM team led by Karapatan – Central Visayas human rights group wa supposed to validate reports of abuses by government forces in farmer communities of the said city and Sta. Catalina town in the province.
“This is an attack to democracy and human rights, this merits a global condemnation as this brutality has no place in a supposedly civilized society, we demand justice for the victims and we hold the Duterte administration, primarily responsible, as he recurrently sowed impunity in the country and derided human rights protection, that served as his blanket approval,” Casilao said in a press statement.
The lawmaker joined peasant and worker activists under Anakpawis in a press briefing yesterday to condemn the continuing crackdown and killings of activists under the Duterte presidency. They will be holding a condemnation action in front of the Department of Agrarian Reform central office in Quezon City, where farmers from Mindanao are presently encamped.
Last Sunday, a local leader of the group, Apolonio Maranan was killed in Davao City, a day after the House Committee on Agrarian Reform held a public hearing, joined by Casilao. This followed last week’s mass arrest of nine activists in Batangas who were also to hold their fact-finding mission activity in Nasugbu town, where local farmers reported numerous abuses committed by government forces.
“This is reminiscent of the counter-insurgency methods under the Oplan Bantay Laya, highlighted by the butcher general Jovito Palparan, especially the case of Ka Eden Marcellana and Ka Eddie Gumanoy, who were killed in Mindoro,” Casilao said.
Eden Marcellana, was the secretary-general of Karapatan – Southern Tagalog while Eddie Gumanoy was the chairperson of Kasama – Timog Katagalugan and council leader of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) who were killed on April 23, 2003 by the “bonnet gang” organized by then Col. Jovito Palparan who was assigned in Oriental Mindoro. The victims were also holding a FFM activity on abduction and killings in towns of the province.
“We have been pronouncing this again and again that Duterte’s methods are similar to of the Macapagal-Arroyo’s regime, particularly the ‘all-out’ war policy and continuing extra-judicial killins, the formation of the IACLA and crackdown on activists, and the termination of the peace talks and ‘terrorist’ tag to the CPP,” Casilao said.
The formation of the Inter-agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA) by the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) was just a copycat of the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), also under the Macapagal-Arroyo regime, while after more than a year of her presidency, on August 9, 2002, the New People’s Army (NPA) was tagged as a “terrorist” organization, Casilao said.
“It is becoming clear, why Duterte is yammering about setting up a sham revolutionary government and itching to declare a nationwide martial law, as the Macapagal-Arroyo regime was broadly resented by the people after 2004 and could only remain in power by imposing an ‘iron hand’ rule,” Casilao said.
The lawmaker claimed that Duterte admits that the broad people will be opposing his programs and policies, thus, he is attempting to preempt this by threatening to declare an “authoritarian” rule, starting with the crackdown on activists.
“We will not be surprised if something similar to the Batasan 6 and the CPR will be executed at present,” he added.
Macapagal-Arroyo’s IALAG charged rebellion cases against the so-called “Batasan 6” or the party-list representatives, against Bayan Muna Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casiño, Anakpawis Reps. Crispin “Ka Bel” Beltran and Rafael “Ka Paeng” Mariano and Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza on February 27, 2006, after more than a month IALAG was formed on January 17, 2006. While the Calibrated Preemptive Response or CPR was issued merely by then-Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita on the anniversary of martial in 2005, as response to a widening public clamor for Arroyo’s resignation, due to the “Hello Garci” or Gloriagate scandal in June 2005.
Amid these signals of tyrannical or authoritarian rule, Casilao urged the broad public to join mass actions in defense of democracy and human rights in the country. ###