MANILA - Detained Sen. Leila De Lima on Saturday sought for an independent and "serious" investigation on the killings of 2 farmer-activists who were supposedly caught painting an anti-administration graffiti in Guinobatan, Albay on Monday.
In a statement, De Lima said the most recent incident of activist killings in Bicol "really startled" her.
"The image of the unfinished slogan on the wall and their blood on the concrete will hit you to the core," the senator, who hails from Iriga, Camarines Sur, said.
Rights group Karapatan earlier identified the 2 activists as Jemar Palero, 22, member of Organisasyon ng mga Magsasaka sa Albay (OMA) and Marlon Naperi, 38, member of the Albay People’s Organization, an affiliate of Karapatan-Bicol.
They were spray painting the words "Duterte Ibagsak" just hours before the President's State of the Nation Address (SONA) when they were shot dead by police for allegedly fighting back.
They were only able to write "Duterte Ibags."
The police report claimed the 2 men were armed and fired shots at the policemen, forcing the law enforcers to fight back.
But for the opposition senator, the cops' "nanlaban" narrative was unbelievable.
Karapatan had also said the activists were unarmed during the ordeal.
“I join the call for an urgent and impartial investigation on this latest case of ‘nanlaban’ killing in the Bicol region," she said.
“They were killed while actually expressing their discontent against the President who, hours after their death, was saying in his SONA that he loves the Bicolanos. Oh!?” according to De Lima.
Police chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar earlier vowed to investigate the killings, and has placed the police officers involved under restrictive custody while it is underway.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) had also urged the Department of Justice (DOJ) to oversee the "thorough and impartial" investigation on the killings.
HRW's senior researcher Carlos Conde added that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) should investigate the incident because the police's claims were "highly suspicious."
During President Rodrigo Duterte's last SONA, he promised security forces of free legal services in case they figured in cases in line with their duty.
— With reports from Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News