DAVAO CITY, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte warned anew that the government will go after organizations believed to be supporting the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Duterte made the statement as he reiterated that there will be no more talks between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
“Itong NPA (New People’s Army), totodasin ko talaga sila. Tatapusin ko. The talks are over. No more talks. And I will go after the legal fronts,” Duterte said shortly after he delivered his arrival speech from his official visit to India at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport here late Friday night. The President’s press conference lasted for more than an hour.
Duterte said he is aware of the communist’s legal front as he once “handled” the National Alliance for Justice, Freedom and Democracy.
“‘Yun ‘yung Karapatan ngayon,” he added, referring to human rights group Karapatan.
He said if the military and the police has to kill they have to do so.
“And if you have to kill, do it because the human rights, kung babagsak itong bayan na ‘to, walang maitulong sa atin ‘yan,” Duterte said.
Duterte said he is only waiting for the decision of the Supreme Court for the declaration of the NPA as a “terrorist” organization following his signing of a proclamation in December last year labeling the CPP, and its armed wing, the NPA as “terrorists”.
Duterte said the terrorist tagging is because of the “continued violent acts” of the revolutionary movement including its “collection of taxes.”
Meanwhile, Cristina Palabay, national secretary general of Karapatan said, the extension of martial law in Mindanao, the continuing implementation of counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan, the crackdown on progressive and human rights organizations advocating for people’s rights, and attacks against press freedom show that the Duterte government is “keen on intensifying extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests, threats and harassment against human rights defenders (HRDs).”
Palabay said they have recorded 84 human rights defenders killed under the Duterte administration, out of the 697 HRDs killed since 2001.
“Tyrants do not like unyielding, resolute people who challenge the status quo and work purposely to demand justice – an attribute characteristic of HRDs,” she said.
Palabay said on January 22, Aniceto Lopez Jr., 55, the secretary-general of Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma (KASAMA) – Bukidnon, was shot dead in Purok 3, Paitan, Quezon, Bukidnon.
She said the suspect was identified as Ernesto Balopenios, a member of the Philippine Marines. The victim sustained multiple gunshot wounds.
“Prior to his killing, the victim reportedly received a call from an unknown person who introduced himself as a member of the Bukidnon police,” Palabay added. She said the caller ordered Lopez to surrender before January 27, as he was accused of being an NPA supporter.
Two days earlier, activist James Flores, 33, a member of the Pederasyon sa tanang Asosasyon sa mga Mag-uuma sa Agusan ug Davao (PAMULAD), was also gunned down by an unidentified assailant while leaving a grocery store in Tagum City.
Karapatan said instead of tinkering with the 1987 Constitution, Filipino lawmakers should focus on passing laws that promote and protect human rights brazenly under attack in the current administration. (davaotoday.com)