“There should be due process.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – The Carillon bells of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City rang out loud in the evening of Sept. 23, to sound off protest against the extrajudicial killings of activists and drug suspects.
The campaign dubbed “Kalembang kontra bang-bang,” gathered groups that highlighted the continued impunity in human rights violations from martial law era to the present, with hapless victims still being killed without due process. The campaign is set to “ring bells” in other schools and churches to raise awareness on the killings and alternative solutions to the drug problem.
The groups emphasized the need to address poverty and the people’s basic needs, which they said is the only fundamental solution to turn people away from drug abuse and trafficking. They also supported the upcoming discussion for a draft Comprehensive Agreement for Social and Economic Reforms (Caser) in the peace talks between government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Among those who spoke at the program were families of slain activists, who empathized with families of drug suspects killed in police operations, or by vigilante groups.
“Sana me proseso. Nahuli nila nang buhay ang kapatid ko, sana ikinulong, inihabla (There should be due process. They captured my sister alive, they should have detained and charged her),” said Jang Monte of Gabriela Women’s Party-list, whose sister Recca Noelle Monte was a New People’s Army (NPA) member who was killed hors de combat in military operations in Lacub, Abra in September 2014.
“The cries for justice, the questions why their kin were killed…we share the sentiments of the families of those who were killed without due process,” Monte said.
The Philippine National Police has reported some 3,000 cases of “deaths under investigation,” which include killings by suspected vigilante groups, and suspects who “fought back” during police operations.
“We hope that Duterte will listen to growing calls to stop the killings,” said Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Karapatan and Selda, and a martial law activist. She recalled the death in the hands of soldiers of her sister Liliosa Hilao, who was tortured and killed in detention in Camp Crame.
“The LGBT sector will not be spared, as vulnerable, marginalized sector, we are also target of violence and killings,” said Aaron Bonnette, spokesperson of the LGBT Bahaghari, citing brutal hate crimes, including the killing of transgenders like Jennifer Laude.
“There is a need for a united movement…to defend our lives and rights and secure our communities,” he said.