De Lima seeks probe into 14 Ne­gros farm­ers' slay

Sun.Star Pampanga - - NATION! -

SEN­A­TOR Leila de Lima has called for a Se­nate in­quiry into the killing of 14 farm­ers in joint po­lice and mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions in Ne­gros Ori­en­tal.

De Lima has filed Res­o­lu­tion 1034, say­ing the killings of farm­ers in the coun­try by state agents must be checked and stopped im­me­di­ately.

"These killings tend to prove the in­abil­ity of the Philip­pine govern­ment to dis­charge its ba­sic duty to pre­serve and main­tain peace and order, and to hold accountable the per­pe­tra­tors of crimes and abuses. They have cul­ti­vated a cul­ture of im­punity and law­less­ness across the coun­try," she said.

"There is an ur­gent need to in­ves­ti­gate this es­ca­lat­ing trend and spate of killings vic­tim­iz­ing our farm­ers, mak­ing it imperative for the govern­ment and law au­thor­i­ties and in­sti­tu­tions to de­velop mech­a­nisms which can hold these per­pe­tra­tors accountable in order for jus­tice and the rule of law to be re­stored and up­held through­out our lands," she added.

The 14 farm­ers were killed last March 30 in joint po­lice and mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions in three ar­eas in Ne­gros Ori­en­tal.

The op­er­a­tions, con­ducted under Oplan Sau­ron, tar­geted sus­pected mem­bers of the New Peo­ple's Army (NPA) in Ne­gros Ori­en­tal.

The Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice said ear­lier that the op­er­a­tions were legitimate and those killed fought it out with au­thor­i­ties.

Hu­man rights groups said, how­ever, that the slain per­sons were not NPA mem­bers, but farm­ers.

"The re­cur­ring nar­ra­tive of sus­pects hav­ing re­sisted ar­rest oth­er­wise known as 'nan­la­ban' has long been serv­ing as a wrong­ful jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the tar­geted and con­tin­u­ous killings around the coun­try," said De Lima.

At least 180 farm­ers have re­port­edly been killed since Pres­i­dent Rodrigo Duterte as­sumed of­fice in 2016. Of the slain farm­ers, 40 were from Ne­gros Is­land.

De Lima said the po­lice and mil­i­tary, as govern­ment agents, "must ob­serve both in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal op­er­a­tional pro­ce­dures in order to en­force the law with re­spect to hu­man rights-based polic­ing, and rea­son­able rules of en­gage­ment." (LMY/ With PR/ Sun­Star Philip­pines)

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