Justice for victims of killings is only possible if Duterte removed from power – fishers group

Global Day of Action for Justice
Justice for victims of killings is only possible if Duterte removed from power – fishers group

Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) joined the “Global Day of Action for Justice” held at the compound of Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City, to demand justice for the latest victims of extra-judicial killings under the Duterte regime, namely Randall “Ka Randy” Echanis, Anakpawis Party-list National Chairperson and Zara Alvarez, a land and human rights defender in Negros Occidental. Both were killed within a week, and Alvarez was hours later of Echanis’ being laid to his final resting place.

“Amid many issues already hounding the country, all brought about by the criminal negligence and incompetence of the Duterte regime, justice for the victims of killings could only be attained if Duterte is removed from his post. It should be stressed that these killings, or mass killing of civilians, particularly targeting legal and democratic activists or based on political belief, is a national policy and a crime against humanity. It should be steadfastly opposed by all Filipinos here in the country and abroad,” Fernando “Ka Pando” Hicap, said in a press statement.

The Tanggol Magsasaka peasant rights watchdog said that at least 262 peasants fell victims to extra-judical killings under the Duterte regime, moreover Karapatan human rights group said that Echanis is the third peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), and Alvarez is the thirteenth human rights defender, killed.

“We should never forget that Duterte, in April, threatened those he accused as being ‘legal fronts,’” Hicap recalled.

President Rodrigo Duterte in a televised briefing said that “Ang utos ko sa kanila, patayin kayo? Eh di patayin ninyo rin. Lahat na. Tapusin na natin ‘to sa panahon ko. I have two more years, I will try to finish all of you. Pati kayong mga legal, magtago na kayo, huwag ninyong sabihin na, putang ina na wala kayong …”

The group said that mass killing of legal activists is institutionalized by Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70, or the “whole-of-nation” approach to counter-insurgency and formation of the anti-communist National Task Force, Memorandum Order No. 32, the virtual order to attack activists in Negros, Samar and Bicol region and the Republic Act No. 11479 or the notorious terror law branded by activists.

“Duterte has lost his mind and already wreaking terror all over the country. His notoriety even dominates the international community, and is under investigation by the International Criminal Court for his crimes against humanity,” the fisherfolk leader slammed.

Under the International Humanitarian Law, crimes against humanity is defined as acts that are purposely committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian or an identifiable part of a civilian population. Under the Geneva Conventions, Protocol II on Non-International Armed Conflicts, Article 13 clearly states, “The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited.”

Moreover, Pamalakaya said that Duterte has lost his moral ascendancy to rule the country, when he himself is averse to the very core ideals of the 1987 Constitution such as democracy, freedom, sovereignty and human rights.

“His propped up public support is already eroded and all is left are fascist trolls in the internet. There is overwhelming social indicators that the Filipino people are fed up with his demagougery and useless antics,” he added.

Based on various surveys by the Social Weather Station, 45% are jobless, about 80% claim worse situation compared to last year, 86% are stressed by the pandemic, and 51% claim danger to criticize the regime.

“These are all results of Duterte’s criminal negligence and incompetence, and preference to fascist rule, particularly appointing useless former military generals to civilan posts. We should put significance to the number of Filipinos who actually claim that Duterte is intolerant of criticism or dissent, as this means that half of the population already repudiate his useless speeches and see them as outright lies,” he elaborated.

Finally, he urged the people to join the call for justice, as well as for urgent fundamental reforms to protect the interest of poor sectors amid the impact of the pandemic.

“There will be no justice and reforms in the country if we tolerate this regime, thus, we should oust Duterte from power, and at present we, by the millions, should be demanding him to resign and let a leader who respects the pillars of democracy, and competent to respond to the pandemic situation take over,” he ended. ###

Ka Pando Hicap at the Global Day of Action for Justice in Quezon City.

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