• Michael Laxer

"Bloody Sunday" in the Philippines leads to international outrage and condemnation

The horrific campaign of extrajudicial killings of leftists continues with impunity under president Rodrigo Duterte.

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte in 2019. Photo via reddit.


While the mainstream media in the west largely ignores it, horrific extrajudicial killings of leftists continue with impunity under the regime of Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines. The brutal killings of nine activists during a series of raids on Sunday, March 7 have drawn outrage and condemnation from groups as diverse as the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the United Nations.


As was related in the South China Morning Post:


The Sunday slayings of nine activists by Philippine security forces show that in his last full year in office, President Rodrigo Duterte is not letting up on the killing spree he started five years ago.
In what is now being called “Bloody Sunday”, police and soldiers raided the offices and homes of community organisers in provinces near Manila. They shot dead nine of them – including a married couple – and arrested six.
The authorities said caches of weapons and grenades were found, and that the activists were killed because they resisted – allegations that have been met with widespread scepticism. Vice-President Leni Robredo called the raids a “massacre” in a Monday statement. The same day, Renato Reyes, secretary general of the leftist group Bayan, told ANC News : “The [police] narrative that they fought back, nobody believes [that].”
The raids took place two days after Duterte met Philippine security forces in Davao City and urged them to kill communists. “I’ve told the military and the police, if they find themselves in an encounter with the communist rebels and you see them armed, kill them, don’t mind human rights,” he said in comments broadcast on television. “I will be the one to go to prison, I don’t have qualms.”

According to Common Dreams:


...one of the victims who was killed Sunday was Emmanuel "Manny" Asuncion, a coordinator of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, a left-wing organization that has "called for an end to 'red-tagging,' the practice of labeling opponents communists or terrorists to justify targeting them, which dates back to the the rule of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos."
As Robertson pointed out, "It is also not a coincidence that these incidents occurred in provinces overseen by the Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, led by Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., who has led a vicious 'red-tagging' campaign against activists by accusing them of rebel links without providing any evidence that can stand up in a court of law."
Additional victims include: Mark Lee Bacasno and Melvin Dasigao, both members of the urban poor group San Isidro Kasiglahan; Ariel Evangelista and his wife, Chai Lemita Evangelista, fishermen's rights advocates whose 10-year-old son is now missing; and four yet-to-be-identified individuals.

"We are appalled by the apparently arbitrary killing of nine activists" Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on March 10 in a public statement.



CUPE release a statement March 9 which read:


CUPE is shocked to learn of a brutal crackdown on activists in the Philippines. On the eve of International Woman’s Day, the Armed Forces of the Philippines - Philippine National Police (AFP-PNP) - killed nine people and arrested six others, in an attack that targeted activists, trade unionists and rights defenders based in the Calabarzon region. Two leaders of our partner union, the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) were among those arrested.
On March 4, COURAGE National Council Member and Water Systems Employees Response (WATER) Secretary General, Ramir Corcolon, was arrested in his home in Laguna Province. CUPE members have met with Corcolon on one of our union’s delegations to the Philippines. As President of the San Pablo City Water District Employees Association (SPCWDEA), we know him to be a committed public sector trade unionist and leader. Eugene Eugenio, member of COURAGE-Rizal and a former employee of Antipolo City Hall, was also arrested on March 7.
CUPE denounces the regime of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, the armed forces and the police for their policy of state terror, legitimized by the Anti-Terror Law of 2020.
This attack, which is being described as “Bloody Sunday,” is the latest escalation in an already violent and repressive situation.
We stand in solidarity with COURAGE and all organizations and activists targeted for exercising their right to organize to defend human and labour rights.

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