More killings seen as Duterte raises reward

Duterte is inciting more violence in Negros by raising the reward money , dead or alive, for those involved in the ambush of 4 policemen. There will be more killings, more red-tagging and more human rights violations.

The situation is already dire and volatile as civilians accused of links with rebel groups are being tragetted by death squads. The spike in civilian deaths came after the ambush of 4 policemen by the NPA. Many have observed that the recent deaths in Negros appear to be retaliation for the deaths of the 4 policemen. The Duterte government claims the policemen were tortured before being killed. The NPA says the policemen died “in a legitimate act of war” and that there was no torture.

Duterte’s offer of a P5 million reward for those responsible for the deaths of the policemen will only aggravate the already dire situation in Negros Oriental.

Prior to the most recent civilian deaths, persons have been unjustly and irresponsibly red-tagged or accused as NPA sympathizers, thereby making them vulnerable targets of retaliatory actions by state-backed death squads. Some of those killed were included in so-called “hit-lists” by so-called anti-communist vigilantes or paramilitary groups.

After being red-tagged as NPA supporters, it makes no sense to blame the victims’ deaths on the NPA. Even the painted wall on a victim’s house saying “Traydor sa NPA” raises skepticism as it tries too hard to pin the blame on one group.

An independent probe must be carried out for all the deaths that have happened in Negros over the past two weeks. A lawyer, two educators and several current or local officials were among those killed. The truth must be known and those responsible should be made accountable.

At this point, we cannot rely on the information being provided by the PNP in Negros. Previously, they also covered-up or justified the killings and arrests of farmers and community leaders in the so-called Sauron operations. They also claimed that ordinary farmers killed during tokhang-style operations were NPA’s resisting arrest.

We join the growing call to stop the killings in Negros.

Increased police deployment and even the threat of Martial Law will not likely stop the killings of civilians, not when the death squads continue to operate with impunity. ###

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