Stop the killings, let good gov­er­nance flour­ish

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion - KARL OM­BION om­[email protected]­

C LIMATE of ter­ror and fear is now grip­ping not only in Ne­gros Ori­en­tal, but the en­tire is­land. And the sce­nario seems to point to more killings, ar­rests in the days ahead es­pe­cially with the threat of Pres­i­dent Duterte to im­pose mar­tial law in the is­land. Based on straight news ac­count, a to­tal of 81, mostly farm­ers and lead­ers of pro­gres­sive or­ga­ni­za­tions, have been killed in Ne­gros since Pres­i­dent Duterte as­sumed pres­i­dency. The break­down is 20 were killed in 2016-2017, 29 in 2018 and 32 from Jan­uary till july31, 2019. In the last two years most ex­tra ju­di­cial killings were in Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal. Re­cently, Ne­gros Ori­en­tal took most of the beat­ing, with only four or six in south Ne­gros Oc­ci­den­tal. This ex­clude re­ported mur­der at­tempts. Of those killed, 3 were lawyers, in­clud­ing Atty Trinidad in Gui­hul­ngan town; all iden­ti­fied as lawyers of vic­tims of land con­flict and ex­ploita­tion. Why has there been no let up in ex­tra ju­di­cial killings in Ne­gros? Why the vic­tims were mostly iden­ti­fied with the pro­gres­sive or­ga­ni­za­tions and com­mu­ni­ties ear­lier tagged as fronts and sup­port­ers of the armed in­sur­gents? Who are the brains and cul­prits? Who ben­e­fits from these on­slaughts on hu­man lives? Most killings were linked with land strug­gles, la­bor dis­putes and those crit­i­cal of the ad­min­is­tra­tion, lo­cal politi­cians, mil­i­tary and the po­lice. If so, this could all be about si­lenc­ing dis­sent, and the mass mur­der of iden­ti­fied lead­ers of the armed in­sur­gents and pro­gres­sive groups, and the per­pet­u­a­tion of the lo­cal sta­tus quo. If most vic­tims were iden­ti­fied with the pro­gres­sive or­ga­ni­za­tions crit­i­cal of the rul­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion, the log­i­cal cul­prits could only be those in power, pri­vate goons of the landed elites, death squads of the mil­i­tary and po­lice, and anti-com­mu­nist groups. It is in­con­gru­ous to put the blame on the armed in­sur­gents who have been work­ing hard to get mass sup­port for their cause. I agree with some views that the mass killings would not have gone this far and wide had there been no of­fi­cial bless­ing from the top of­fi­cials of Mala­canang. What could be more in­struc­tive than the Mem­o­ran­dum Cir­cu­lar 32 signed by the Pres­i­dent in 2018 call­ing for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of mea­sures to sup­press and pre­vent law­less vi­o­lence, and the Ex­ec­u­tive Order 70 s. 2018 call­ing for the cre­ation of na­tional task force to end lo­cal com­mu­nist armed con­flict? Some­body must have been in­spired by some­body, whether good or bad. State se­cu­rity forces who be­lieve in Pres­i­dent Duterte’s strong man rule, are cer­tainly em­bold­ened by the Pres­i­dent’s or­ders and raw ex­hor­ta­tions to kill those who stand against his

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