Karapatan supports filing of cases vs perpetrators of EJKs
Karapatan expressed support for the filing of criminal charges against perpetrators of extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration, including the recently filed cases by kin of victims of political killings in Maayon, Capiz and that of relatives of victims of drug-related killings in Caloocan City.
“Exacting accountability of perpetrators in courts on such gruesome rights violations against farmers and urban poor is among the ways by which justice is pursued, even if most of the time, if not all the time, the justice system works against the aggrieved and is biased for those in power,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.
On March 6, criminal charges of murder were filed against elements of the 61st Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army, including members of its Scout Platoon headed by Sgt. Jeffrey Belarmino, 61st IBPA Executive Officer Maj. Allan Mangaser and Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Leonardo dela Pena, on the February 24 killing of farmers Ian Borres, 24, and Lorendo Borres, 48. Karapatan assisted the relatives of the victims in filing the said charges.
The two farmers were killed in Sitio Maknoy, Brgy. Jebaca, Maayon, Capiz, while on their way to get their carabaos as men in plainclothes were reportedly stealing them. It turned out the soldiers were the thieves themselves, and they fired at the two, who were with three relatives. The soldiers caught up with Ian and Lorendo Borres, while their three relatives were able to escape. Ian Borres’s body bore 32 gunshots, while Lorendo was also killed. The soldiers said the Borreses were NPA rebels, but residents and local government officials attested to the fact that they were ordinary farmers. The residents also expressed concern on the continuing military operations in their community, before, during and after the said killing.
On March 14, double murder and administrative charges were filed against nine Caloocan City police officers led by DSOU chief PSupt. Ali Jose Duterte for the killing of Luis Bonifacio and his son Gabriel Lois on September 15, 2016, as police conducted operations in line with Oplan Tokhang and Oplan Double Barrel. The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers and Rise Up, a campaign network against drug-related extrajudicial killings and violations, assisted the relatives of the victims.
Karapatan said they are set to submit complaints through available international human rights redress mechanisms on cases of extrajudicial killings and other rights abuses under the Duterte regime in the coming weeks, in preparation for the United Nations Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines on May 8, 2017.
“The Philippine government is accountable to the victims and the Filipino people, under national laws, its Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) with the NDFP, and as a signatory to numerous international human rights covenants and treaties, because the rights violations were committed through the implementation of State policies such as counter-insurgency programs and the war on drugs. While it is important to hold all State actors accountable, let this exercise be not used for any form of transgression on the country’s sovereignty, but as an expression of the people’s right to seek redress of grievances and to promote people-to-people solidarity,” Palabay said.
“We laud the courage of the relatives of the victims, the witnesses and their communities. What is most important is that the people are empowered to speak and organize themselves, despite numerous threats, and to educate the broad public on the need to change a system that has inflicted the worst forms of atrocities against the poor majority,” concluded Palabay.