‘Se­nate hear­ing on Ne­gros killings a farce’

Sun Star Bacolod - - Front Page -

THE Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Su­gar Work­ers (NFSW) has ex­pressed dis­may over last Tues­day’s Se­nate hear­ing on the re­cent killings in Ne­gros.

The group, in a state­ment, called the hear­ing led by Sen­a­tor Ron­ald “Bato” dela Rosa a “farce” with lit­tle to no fan­fare.

Ariel Casi­lao, con­vener of NFSW’S De­fend Ne­gros Net­work, said the coun­terin­sur­gency pol­icy to curb lawle­ness has only re­sulted in dou­bling the num­ber of ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings ag­gra­vat­ing the state of lawle­ness in the is­land.

Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte is­sued Mem­o­ran­dum Or­der No. 32 which aims to in­crease the num­ber of government forces in Ne­gros, there have been 350 per­cent surge in the rate of killings there.

Even though Duterte al­ready stated that he will not im­pose mar­tial law in Ne­gros, the group be­lieved that the is­land is un­der it al­ready as “it has wel­comed 11 state-armed groups.”

For­mer Depart­ment of So­cial Wel­fare and Devel­op­ment Sec­re­tary Judy Tagui­walo, who is also a con­venor of the group, ques­tioned the lack of pres­ence of the sur­viv­ing kin of the vic­tims of “Oplan: Sau­ron.”

“Why are there no rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the or­ga­ni­za­tions from which the vic­tims hail from? Are most of them not or­ga­nized peas­ants, com­mit­ted ac­tivists, hu­man rights de­fend­ers?” she asked.

The NFSW said the Se­nate hear­ing is as empty as the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice’s (PNP) sup­posed pur­suit of jus­tice.

They pointed out that with nei­ther fam­i­lies nor or­ga­ni­za­tions of the vic­tims of po­lice bru­tal­ity present, the probe is worse than a farce.

“We can only sneer at and con­demn this brazen dis­play of de­cep­tion and in­jus­tice,” they added.

On Tues­day, the PNP pro­vided an up­date on their probe into the spate of vi­o­lence that oc­curred in Ne­gros Ori­en­tal from July 18 to July 28, which re­sulted in 21 deaths.

It noted that another four were recorded this month. Also, 17 of those killed were civil­ians while four were po­lice of­fi­cers.

Sen­a­tor Risa Hon­tiveros, who filed the se­nate res­o­lu­tion to seek an in­ves­ti­ga­tion over the killings, also re­leased a sup­posed “hitlist” made by a group called the Kawsa Gui­hul­nganon Ba­tok Ku­mu­nista (Kagubak), which re­port­edly op­poses the New Peo­ple’s Army (NPA) and com­mu­nist ide­ol­ogy.

“We have a so-called ‘hitlist’ cir­cu­lat­ing and at­trib­uted to Kagubak,” the sen­a­tor pointed out.

Hon­tiveros said the list needs to be se­ri­ously looked into as one of those listed was lawyer An­thony Trinidad, who was killed by rid­ing-in-tan­dem sus­pects in Gui­hul­ngan City last month.

Five of the 15 peo­ple listed are al­ready dead.

How­ever, Po­lice Re­gional Of­fice in Re­gion 7 (PRO-7) Di­rec­tor Po­lice Bri­gadier Gen­eral De­bold Si­nas, who was also present at the hear­ing, con­cluded that the sup­posed list was elec­tion-re­lated.

Mean­while, Hon­tiveros said she be­lieves that hu­man rights are “obli­ga­tion not just of the state, but also non-state ac­tors.”

“If the po­lice are at fault then they have to be held li­able,” she stressed./tde

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