Vice President Leni Robredo did not mince words against President Rodrigo Duterte’s government in the wake of the “Bloody Sunday” raids in Calabarzon that left at least 9 activists dead and 6 others arrested.
In a statement late Monday night, March 8, the Philippine opposition leader said there is only one way to describe the deadly police and military raids last Sunday, March 7 – a “massacre,” and one that was conducted days after Duterte himself issued another “shoot to kill” order against communist insurgents.
“There is no other way to describe this: It was a massacre. And it came just two days after the President himself ordered state forces to ‘ignore human rights,’ kill communist rebels, and ‘finish them off,’ in his rant before the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict,” said Robredo.
“Mariin nating kinokondena ang mga pagpatay sa Calabarzon, gaya ng pagkondena natin sa pagkitil sa napakaraming inosenteng buhay sa ilalim ng administrasyong ito,” she added.
(We strongly condemn the killings in Calabarzon, just like our condemnation of the slaughter of many innocent lives under this administration.)
The Vice President said that while Filipinos live in “difficult and dangerous times,” they must come together and stand up to the culture of violence and impunity that has long persisted under the Duterte presidency.
“Bagkus, mas lumalakas lang ang panawagang ipakita na handa tayong magbigkis at magkapit-bisig para protektahan ang isa’t isa. Na handa tayong tumindig at magsalita hindi lang para sa ating pamilya at mga kakilala, pero para sa ating kapwa na naniniwala sa mabuting pamamahala, kalayaan, at demokrasya,” Robredo said.
(Despite this, the call for us to join hands to protect each other only grows stronger. We must be ready to stand up and speak out not just for our family and the people we know, but for our neighbors who believe in good governance, freedom, and democracy.)
“Na kailangan nilang harapin ang bawat isa sa atin kung gusto nila tayong pigilan sa pagsambit ng katotohanan: The Filipino people deserve better than this murderous regime,” she added.
(We must be able to show them that they will have to deal with all of us if they plan to stop us from speaking the truth: The Filipino people deserve better than this murderous regime.)
Robredo then called for an “independent” investigation into the killings so that justice will be served to the victims and the families they left behind.
The Vice President has long earned Duterte’s ire for speaking out against his abusive policies like his war against drugs, where thousands of suspects have been killed in legitimate police operations and vigilante-style killings.
The killings of activists in Calabarzon were conducted amid Duterte’s intensified crackdown on communist rebels, activists, and even mere government critics.
The Bloody Sunday killings also came months after the passage of the anti-terror law. Critics have warned the law could be used by the Duterte government to go after dissenters.
The law’s constitutionality is currently being challenged before the Supreme Court. – Rappler.com