“The struggle for meaningful and thoroughgoing change continues, as we continue to uphold and assert people’s rights.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – In tears, Princess Diaz narrated how her father, Ariel Diaz, defended the right to land of fellow farmers.
Ariel Diaz, chairperson of Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon ti Isabela – Delfin Albano (Dagami – Delfin Albano Chapter) was killed by three motorcycle-riding men, Sept. 7 at around 8 a.m. in barangay Villa Pereda, Delfin Albano, Isabela.
Princess said her 57-year-old father never had enemies except agro-corporations trying to grab and control farmlands in the province.
“We are crying out for justice,” Princess said in a forum, Oct. 5 at the University of the Philippines Diliman.
Ariel is just one of the 16 victims of political killings in the first 100 days of President Rodrigo Duterte administration, according to human rights alliance Karapatan.
The group said most of the victims were farmers and indigenous peoples defending their right to land. Karapatan also documented two cases of torture, and nine victims of illegal arrest and detention.
Meanwhile, Duterte’s war on drugs has claimed nearly 2,000 lives. This means that 20 drug suspects were killed per day.
The death toll prompted National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Vicente Ladlad to call Duterte’s war on drugs “worse than the extrajudicial killings of activists during the nine-year reign of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.”
In an earlier interview with Bulatlat, Ladlad said “nothing could justify the extrajudicial killings of suspected drug users.” “The sad part is that many of those killed belong to the poor while the suspected drug lords are the only ones given due process,” he said.
Rights violations perpetrated under Oplan Bayanihan continue, Karapatan said. Besides the killings, the filing of trumped-up charges against activists has not stopped, Karapatan noted.
While the Department of Justice withdrew the charges against activists who have supported Lumad evacuees staying in Davao City, two development workers — Lumad teacher-researcher Amelia Pond and peace advocate John Maniquez — are facing fabricated common crimes.
Despite the GPH declared unilateral ceasefire with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-NDFP, various groups reported military operations by the government’s state security forces.
Justice still elusive
Victims of human rights violations during the previous administrations still demand justice.
Karapatan said perpetrators of human rights violations are yet to be arrested and punished despite warrants of arrests issued against them. Murderers of Fernando Baldomero, Romeo Capalla, Fr. Fausto Tentorio, Leonard Co, Juvy Capion and her two children, and many others remain scot free.
Martial law victims and their families have opposed Duterte’s proposal for a hero’s burial for the late dictator Ferdinand.
Karapatan welcomed the release of NDFP consultants and the resumption of peace talks between the GRP and the NDFP.
It should be noted however that the 18 NDFP consultants were released on bail and the fabricated charges against them have not been dismissed.
Duterte has also yet to fulfill his promise to provide general amnesty for all political prisoners.
Karapatan maintained that the GRP’s declaration of unilateral ceasefire, an initial positive outcome in the peace talks, was key to the decision of the Lumad evacuees to return home.
After a year of being uprooted from their community, Surigao del Sur evacuees were able to return home. Lumad evacuees staying at the UCCP Haran in Davao City, meanwhile, have yet to return home due to continuing military presence in their communities.
Karapatan welcomed Duterte’s order for the Armed Forces of the Philippines to take full control of paramilitary groups like Alamara and Magahat-Bagani.
Cristina Palabay, Karapatan, secretary general, said, “The struggle for meaningful and thoroughgoing change continues, as we continue to uphold and assert people’s rights under the Duterte administration and beyond.”