Rights group urges int'l community to review ties with PH after priest, journo slays

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 14 2018 06:37 PM

The spot at a church in Zaragoza town, Nueva Ecija where Fr. Richmond Nilo was shot dead on June 10. Noriel Padiernos, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - International rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday called on other countries to "urgently re-assess" their ties with the Philippines following the recent killings of a priest and a journalist in the country.

The group said the killings of Nueva Ecija priest Rev. Fr. Richmond Nilo and Davao journalist Dennis Denora were a "matter of grave concern" as it called for the placement of international accountability mechanisms within the country.

"Foreign governments and donors should urgently re-assess their engagements with Manila to ensure that any assistance they provide to the Philippine security forces and the judiciary emphasize accountability and due process," HRW said in a statement.

It added that donors should ensure that their assistance "do not in any way fund or enable any elements of the military and the police implicated in human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killing."

"These killings, alongside the thousands of deaths in the 'drug war,' are grim reminders of the vulnerability of the poor and those who speak out for their rights and against the deadly extrajudicial violence that Philippine authorities are apparently unwilling or unable to either stop or provide meaning accountability for," it said.

HRW has been critical of deaths in the Duterte administration's drug war, while government continued to deny involvement in extrajudicial killings. 

The administration has maintained that those slain in anti-drug operations had violently resisted arrest. 

Nilo was about to begin Mass in a church in Zaragoza Sunday night, when unidentified gunmen shot him dead. 

He was the third Catholic priest to be killed in a span of six months. 

Opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros pointed out Wednesday that the killings came after President Rodrigo Duterte's repeated verbal assault against the Catholic Church. 

Denora, meanwhile, was shot dead last week by motorcycle-riding gunmen.