By Dee Ayroso in Manila
Church groups and human rights advocates are holding the Duterte administration accountable for the spate of attacks which killed 10 activists in a span of two days.
The slain victims were two religious leaders in Luzon and eight Lumad indigenous activists massacred in Mindanao.
In an protest rally at the Boys Scout Circle in Quezon City on Tuesday, progressives condemned the killings of civilians and activists, either in military operations, or assassination-style by suspected military death squads.
The attacks, they said, were reminiscent of the open fascist rule during the Marcos dictatorship and during the “undeclared martial law” under the administration of President Gloria Arroyo.
The protesters, led by Karapatan, the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) vowed to also raise the level of opposition to “state terrorism” and call for justice in a big protest in Luneta, Manila on December 10 – International Human Rights Day on Sunday.
“Indeed, this fascist and terrorist regime has turned the entire country into a killing field,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay in a statement.
Since Sunday, December 3, Karapatan has been sending out one urgent alert after another, about various human rights violations happening all over the country.
The human rights group denounced how unarmed civilians have become “open targets by state security forces, emboldened and reassured by their commander-in-chief”.
At 10:45 on Monday night, December 4, Catholic priest Marcelito “Tito” Paez, 72, died from nine gunshot wounds in a hospital where he was rushed after being attacked by motorcycle-riding men. He was the first Catholic priest killed extrajudicially under Duterte.
On December 3, Pastor Lovelito Quiñones, 57, was shot dead by the Police Regional Mobile Group in Mansalay, Oriental Mindoro. Karapatan cited that the Army’s 203rd Brigade claimed the victim was a “New People’s Army guerrilla,” which his relatives rejected and said the RMG planted a .45 calibre pistol as “evidence”.
Quiñones, a pastor of King’s Glory Ministry, was on his motorcycle heading home in Don Pedro village when he was shot in the chest. The Army’s 4th Infantry Division alleged that there was an encounter in the area.
On the same day in South Cotabato province in Mindanao, eight Lumad residents were shot dead by a composite team of soldiers of the 27th Infantry Battalion and Philippine Marines in sitio (subvillage) Datal Bong Langon, Ned village, Lake Sebu.
Killed were: Victor Danyan, Victor Danyan Jr., Artemio Danyan, Pato Celardo, Samuel Angkoy, To Diamante, Bobot Lagase, and Mateng Bantal. Two others were wounded: Luben and Teteng Laod.