Senate probe sought on 'Bloody Sunday' killings


Posted at Mar 12 2021 12:07 PM

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MANILA - A senator has filed a resolution seeking to investigate the slay of 9 activists during police and military raids in Calabarzon, which has been tagged by right groups as "Bloody Sunday".

Speaking to Teleradyo, Sen. Risa Hontiveros raised concerns that the operations could be linked to the relentless red-tagging activity of state forces.

Red-tagging is defined as an act of state actors, particularly law enforcement agencies, to publicly brand individuals, groups or institutions as affiliated with communist or terrorists.

"Bakit nagse-serve lang ng search warrant ay kinailangang umabot sa ganitong kalawak na karahasan?" Hontiveros said.

(Why did it end up with so much violence when it was only serving search warrants?)

The police and military on Sunday implemented 24 search warrants in Calabarzon that left 9 activists dead and 3 others arrested. Nine other subjects -- 1 in Batangas and 8 in Rizal -- remain at large.

Among those killed were Manny Asuncion, coordinator of activist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Cavite, and fisherfolk leaders Chai Lemita-Evangelista and Ariel Evangelista in Batangas.

The operations came 2 days after President Rodrigo Duterte told state forces to ignore human rights and “finish off” communist rebels.

Hontiveros stressed that the victims were non-combatants but were instead leaders and organizers of different causes.

"Dapat hinding-hindi na maulit ito dahil nagiging pattern na nga. Parang tuloy-tuloy 'yong ganitong napakasaklap na kaganapan," she said.

(This should not happen again because it has become a pattern. It seems like these tragic events kept on happening.)

On Thursday, the bodies of several activists killed in the "Bloody Sunday" raids were released from a morgue in Antipolo City. It capped off nearly a week of standoff between police and their kin over the custody of their remains.

The United Nations' human rights office has criticized the arbitrary killings of the 9 activists in Calabarzon.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra had said his department would endorse to the country's inter-agency task group on extrajudicial killings the investigation of the slay of the activists.

The police, however, maintained the operation was legitimate and those killed were allegedly "involved in some kind of terror operation."