On Christmas eve, 'scared' Pangasinan residents write open letter to Duterte
MANILA, Philippines – Families of Pangasinan local officials killed in 2018 urged President Rodrigo Duterte to help solve the murders and bring justice to their loved ones.
In an open letter published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Monday, December 24, they appealed for help from the government to end the violence in the province that they claim has been rampant in the months leading to the May 2019 elections.
“Kami po ay dumudulong sa inyo para tulungan kami sa aming paghahanap ng hustisya,” the families said. “Mahal na Pangulo, kami po ay labis na natatakot, nangangamba, at nalulungkot sa mga karahasang patuloy na nagaganap dito sa lalawigan ng Pangasinan.”
(We are appealing for help in our quest for justice. Our dear President, we are scared, threatened, and saddened over the continuous violence happening in Pangasinan.)
Stated in the letter are names of local officials slain in recent months, including Sto Tomas councilor Benjamin Oculto Jr who was gunned down on December 16, and former Bayambang councilor Levin Uy who was killed on November 16, among others.
Oculto was a vice mayoral bet for Sto Tomas while Uy was a longtime aide of Bayambang Mayor Cesar Quiambao.
Included also were a number of barangay officials such as the late barangay captain Froilan Agbayani who was killed in Barangay Sto Domingo in Sual on June 8, and barangay kagawad Domingo Dominguez of San Fabian who was gunned down on November 27, among others.
According to the families, they still feel scared as the cases are yet to be resolved. They urge the President to address the incidents through the local police.
“Tulungan niyo po sana kami upang makamit ang minimithi naming katarungan at naway mapag-utusan ang mga lokal na kapulisan na bigyan ng pansin ang pagresolba ng mga kasong karahasan,” the families said.
“Kung hindi bibigyan ng kaukulang pansin, patuloy na maghahari ang takot sa mga tao, at ilang pamilya pa ba ang mauulila?” they added.
(Help us with the justice that we seek by ordering the local police to focus on resolving these violent cases. If they do not focus on these cases, fear will continue to reign. How many more families will lose a loved one?)
Murders of local officials occur amid what groups refer to as a culture of impunity in the Philippines –particularly in line with the violent anti-illegal drugs campaign. (READ: The Impunity Series)
Rappler has tallied at least 7 mayors and 12 mayors have been slain under Duterte's watch.
On Saturday, December 22, AKO BICOL Representative Rodel Batocabe was shot dead along with his police escort while in a gift-giving event in Daraga, Albay. On the same day, a former mayor of a town in Bukidnon was also killed. – Rappler.com