After the conduct of coordinated raids in four provinces in the country, the Philippine security forces are now being accused by a left-leaning human rights organization of the activist killings, as their operation resulted in the death of 9 activists.
Philippine Forces Face Backlash for 'Activist Killings'
The leader of the rights group, Karapatan, Cristina Palabay shared that the raids were carried out at the homes and offices of the activists. Two of the victims were the couple that was killed while their 10-year-old son was hiding under a bed, she added.
According to The New York Times, when asked regarding the incident, a spokesman of the government was not immediately able to give any comment, but an official of the security forces has confirmed that nine individuals had been killed in the series of raids that were carried out in the joint operations of the Philippine National Police and the military. Police spokesman, Lt. Col. Chitadel Gaoiran mentioned the confirmation based on the report of GMA News.
In addition, Ms. Palabay stated that the 'activist killings' had happened in the provinces of Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal, which are all located in the southern portion of Luzon island, where the country's capital, Manila is. She also added that the activists who were killed had worked for numerous organizations, which includes a group that is working on behalf of Philippine fishermen and another that is campaigning for the rights of the urban poor.
Moreover, the leader of the rights group, Karapatan, also shared that nothing could be more apt than calling the day a 'Bloody Sunday.' She also claimed that the killings were part of a 'murderous campaign of state terror' by the administration of current Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to stifle legitimate dissent that is why she is urging the independent Commission on Human Rights by the country to investigate the conducted raids, CNN reported.
Meanwhile, aside from those who were dead as a result of the raids, three activists were also arrested. That includes a paralegal expert who is working for Karapatan, Palabay said.
Not only prominent officials of the country and President Duterte but also the military and commanders of the police have accused the rights group Karapatan and other leftist groups of having ties to the long-running communist insurgency in the country. But Karapatan and those groups who were accused have denied their connection to the accused ongoing violence.
On the other hand, the deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, Phil Robertson, shared that his organization was seriously concerned regarding the reports of the raids which were conducted jointly by the police and the military. He claimed that the 'activist killings' were clearly part of the counterinsurgency campaign of the Duterte administration against the communist rebels.
In his statement, Robertson mentioned that the fundamental problem is this campaign no longer makes any distinction between armed rebels and noncombatant activists, rights defenders, and labor leaders. Before the raids on Sunday, President Duterte urged the security forces of the Philippines to kill communists once they will encounter and finish them off if they are alive, Inquirer.Net reported.