House of Representatives

Makabayan wants probe into ‘Tokhang-style’ killings of activists in Calabarzon

Mara Cepeda
Makabayan wants probe into ‘Tokhang-style’ killings of activists in Calabarzon

CALL FOR JUSTICE. Bayan Muna Representatives Carlos Zarate, Eufemia Cullamat, and Ferdinand Gaite join the indignation protest against the Bloody Sunday raids in Calabarzon on March 7, 2021.

Photo courtesy of Bayan Muna

Representative Arlene Brosas says the Tokhang-style crackdown 'was meant to instill fear among the growing people’s movement against Duterte's bloody regime'

Progressive lawmakers of the Makabayan bloc condemned the “Tokhang-style” crackdown on activists in the Calabarzon region, where at least 9 were killed and 6 others arrested on Sunday, March 7.

Bayan Muna Representatives Carlos Zarate, Ferdinand Gaite, and Eufemia Cullamat issued a joint statement to “condemn in the strongest terms the Tokhang-style simultaneous raids in Southern Tagalog.”

Zarate, who is also House Deputy Minority Leader, slammed the Calabarzon police for allegedly murdering innocent civilians and for planting evidence to back their trump up cases against the activists. 

“Ito ang gustong mangyari palagi ng gobyernong Duterte sa ilalim ng terror law, na araw-araw ay may madugong raid at pagtatanim ng ebidensya laban sa oposisyon at kritiko ng gobyerno (This is what the Duterte government wants to happen under the terror law, that every day there will be bloody raids and planting of evidence against the opposition and critics of the government),” said Zarate. 

Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Arlene Brosas also said the Tokhang-style crackdown “was meant to instill fear among the growing people’s movement against Duterte’s bloody regime.”

Rights groups slam killings of activists in Calabarzon raids

Rights groups slam killings of activists in Calabarzon raids

Oplan Tokhang is a controversial police operation under President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, where cops literally knock on the doors of suspected drug users and dealers to ask them to stop their habit or trade.

Tokhang has since become synonymous to extrajudicial killings after reports surfaced of police killing unarmed suspects. In defending the killings, police officers commonly say that the suspects fought back while resisting arrest or “nanlaban.”

The killing of the activists in Calabarzon also comes months after the passage of the anti-terror law, which critics have warned will be used by the Duterte government to go after dissenters. The law’s constitutionality is currently being challenged before the Supreme Court (SC). 

Blood on Duterte’s hands

Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago said the President himself is responsible for the activists’ deaths since the police raids were conducted after Duterte ordered police and soldiers to kill communist insurgents in all encounters.

“Ito ay isang araw matapos sabihin ng Pangulo na ‘shoot and kill,’ ‘ignore human rights’ sa mga armadong rebelde (This comes a day after the President said shoot to kill,” ignore human rights” of armed rebels). Instead, Duterte admin’s counterinsurgency campaign has targeted dissenters, orgs and activists opposing the regime’s anti-people policies,” Elago said in a statement on Sunday. 

For Cullamat, these Bloody Sunday killings should “now prompt Congress to investigate the rampant human rights violations under the Duterte administration.”

ACT Teachers Representative France Castro then called on the SC on Monday, March 8, to “review” its rule allowing executive judges of Quezon City and Manila to issue search warrants that are valid nationwide.

“We urge the Supreme Court to review its rule allowing executive judges of Quezon City and Manila to issue search warrants valid nationwide, and the seeming complicity of several judges with human rights violations by their issuance of search warrants in violation of the Rules of Court,” said Castro.

Two Manila judges had issued at least 4 search warrants in the bloody Sunday crackdown, including the search warrants for 3 of the fatalities. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.