“How many more should die, before it is acknowledged that the system that drives State security forces to kill civilians needs to be changed?”
By RAYMUND B. VILLANUEVA
Human rights groups expressed alarm at the spate of killings of civilians by police officers, with Karapatan calling for a system change within State security forces.
Following the killing of a 52-year old grandmother by a police sergeant in Fairview, Quezon City Monday night, Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said a dangerous mindset ails many among security forces in the country.
“How many more should die, before it is acknowledged that the system that drives State security forces to kill civilians needs to be changed?” Palabay asked.
Palabay added there are more than enough recent cases to indicate that the public killings by police officers are not isolated incidents.
Kaparatan listed the following cases involving police officers, military men and even community security personnel in the last three months:
-On May 31, 2021, a drunk Police Master Sergeant Hensie Zinampan shot 59-year old Lilibeth Valdez in Brgy. Greater Fairview in Quezon City.
-On May 29, 2021, National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant Reynaldo Bocala, 75, and his 60-year old companion Wilfredo Epago were killed during a police and military raid in Pavia, Iloilo.
-On May 23, 2021, police shot Edwin Arnigo, an 18-year old with autism, during a raid of an illegal cockfighting game in Valenzuela City. Arnigo happened to just pass by the area when executed by a police officer.
-On May 11, 2021, peasant leader Joseph Canlas died after contracting COVID-19 inside a prison in Pampanga. Canlas was arbitrarily arrested during a questionable police and military raid on March 30, 2021.
-On April 19, 2021, 35-year old Retchie Nepomuceno was killed along a road in Cebu City, after accusing a police staff sergeant of raping her while in police custody.
-On April 9, 2021, Ernanie Jimenez died after being beaten by barangay tanod for allegedly violating curfew rules in Calamba City, Laguna.
-On April 2, 2021, 21-year old Darren Manaog Penaredondo died, after being forced to do 300 rounds of pumping exercise in General Trias, Cavite for allegedly violating community quarantine policies.
-On March 7, 2021, nine activists in Southern Tagalog – a fisherfolk couple, a trade union leader, four indigenous farmers, an urban poor activist and a youth leader – were killed in simultaneous police and military raids in three provinces.
Karapatan said police claims that the incidents are “isolated incidents” are simply not true.
“What is clear and apparent is that these violations are brazenly conducted, at many times in full view of an audience. What is clear and apparent is that a governance driven by a kill-kill-kill policy is fostering a environment of insecurity,” she said.
Palabay added that the dangerous mindset of normalizing such killings is deeply ingrained among State forces.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said it shall be conducting a motu propio investigation into the shooting of Valdez.
In a video circulating online, an allegedly drunk PMSgt. Zinampan can be seen grabbing the victim’s hair and eventually shooting her through the neck.
Ironically, in a standard declaration among police officers, Zinampan has condemned fellow PMSgt. Jonel Nuezca who was also caught on video shooting and killing mother and son Sonia and Frank Gregorio during an altercation in Paniqui, Tarlac Province last December 21.
“This incident is gravely concerning as we expect our police to ‘serve and protect,’ and not be at the frontlines of violating rights, let alone arbitrarily curtailing one’s right to life,” CHR executive director and spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline Ann de Guia said.
De Guia also said the CHR urged the PNP to translate commitments of internal cleansing into actual reduction of cases of human rights violations on the ground after a string of recent deaths and killings attributed to police officers.
“One death is one too many. We urge the government to address these violations with the larger view that the protection of human rights is primarily a State obligation,” de Guia said.