Nine killed after Duterte’s order to “finish” the Communists | Human rights news
At least nine activists have been killed in simultaneous raids in the northern Philippines that took place just two days after President Rodrigo Duterte. ordered government forces “Kill” and “finish off” all the communist rebels in the country.
Police said six people were also arrested in raids in three provinces surrounding Metro Manila on Sunday, while at least six others “escaped.”
Police also said they had arrest warrants for 18 people, adding that some had resisted arrest, resulting in their deaths.
Rights groups Karapatan and the Kabataan (Youth) Party contested the government’s claim, saying those killed had been “executed”.
Emmanuel “Manny” Asuncion, a union leader in Cavite province, just outside Manila, was among those killed, the Pamalakaya Fishermen’s Federation said in a statement.
UPLB Perspective, a student publication from the University of the Philippines, reported that two labor organizers, a husband and a wife, were killed in Batangas province, which borders the Philippine capital.
Chai and Ariel Evangelista, along with their 10-year-old son, had disappeared hours before their death. The fate of their son remains unknown.
Karapatan said the family were “taken into custody” during a pre-dawn raid, but did not say who was holding them.
Another scandalous bloody Sunday. Duterte’s government continues its brutal anti-Communist campaign by killing legal activists under questionable legal cover provided by judge-facilitators. This @hrw statement has the right perspective. @IntlCrimCourt: Take note, beware, act. https://t.co/cStbCfRDqQ
– John Nery (@jnery_newsstand) March 7, 2021
In Rizal province, Karapatan also confirmed the deaths of two militants following a shooting.
While it was the police who carried out the raids on Sunday, Karapatan General Secretary Cristina Palabay said the army “obediently obeyed the president’s orders to kill, kill, kill.”
Human Rights Watch (HRW) also raised concerns about the deadly raids, saying that, based on the reports, the operation appears to be a “coordinated plan” by the authorities.
“These incidents are clearly part of the government’s increasingly brutal counterinsurgency campaign to suppress” the Communist rebellion, Phil Robertson, HRW deputy director for Asia, said in a statement.
President Duterte on Friday launched a “counterinsurgency” operation against communist rebels in Mindanao.
His threat against the Communists has raised fears of a new wave of bloodshed similar to his “war on drugs” that has killed thousands of people, including children.
Rights groups have warned that the threat no longer distinguishes between armed rebels, rights defenders and critics of the Duterte administration.
“I told the military and the police that if they were in an armed encounter with the Communist rebels, kill them, make sure you really kill them and finish them off if they are alive,” said Duterte.
“Just be sure to return their bodies to their respective families. Forget about human rights. This is my order. I’m ready to go to jail, that’s okay. I have no qualms about doing the things I need to do.
Communist rebels have been fighting the government since 1968 – one of the oldest Maoist uprisings in the world.
According to the military, the rebellion has already killed more than 30,000 people.
Several presidents have tried unsuccessfully to reach an agreement with the rebels, whose leader Jose Maria Sison is now in self-exile in the Netherlands.
When he ran for president in 2016, Duterte vowed to finally end the rebellion through peace talks, stressing his ties to rebel commanders when he was mayor of Davao City in Mindanao, where the Communist rebellion is still active.
After taking office, Duterte ordered direct talks with the Communists, only to find the military and rebels in frequent armed encounters.
Following heavy clashes between government forces and rebels in 2017, Duterte called off the peace process and subsequently signed a proclamation calling the Communist fighters “terrorists”.
He also instigated government forces to shoot rebel women in their genitals as punishment and offered a bounty for each rebel killed.
In 2018, a special task force was formed by the president to target rebels and their supporters.
Critics and human rights activists said the special body was also deployed against key leftist politicians and other critics of Duterte.
Several officials in the Duterte administration have also been accused of calling “blindly” anyone who criticizes the president – including members of the university, journalists and activists – as “communists”.
In recent months, a number of activists, lawyers and medics have been shot dead after being labeled in public and on social media as active Communist sympathizers and Communist rebels.