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Human rights groups reiterate demand: Justice for EJK victims

Human rights groups and progressive organizations reiterated their call for an impartial probe and renewed their demand for justice for the victims of state-sponsored killings in Negros under the Duterte regime, during a meeting held by the Inter-Agency Committee on EJK and Enforced Disappearance at the Acacia Hotel in Bacolod City Monday.

At the end of the Duterte administration, there were about 109 cases of extra judicial killings (EJK), of which 39 were from Negros Occidental and 70 from Negros Oriental, a press release from the committee said.

The deadliest period was during the duration of Memorandum Order 32 that placed Negros Island under a State of Emergency, which resulted in 38 cases. To date, what the police and the DOJ have done was to merely record the gruesome murders and worse, harassed the family and friends of the victims, it said.

The Duterte government faces widespread condemnation for the apparent state-sponsored killings and other forms of attacks on right to life, liberty and security of persons before the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nation Human Rights Council and other international bodies. It faces a probe before the International Criminal Court for drug war killings, the press release said.

The Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) was created thru Administrative Order 35 series of 2012 by the late President Benigno Aquino III as a government body to resolve cases of EJK, enforced disappearances and other cases of rights violations.

Among the notable cases of these state-sponsored killings were that of Benjamin Ramos Jr. (November 2018), Bernardino Patigas (April 2019), Zara Alvarez (August 2020), Elisa Badajos (November 2017) and Alexander Ceballos (January 2017), the Sagay Nine Massacre, the Oplan Sauron 1 and 2 in Negros Oriental that killed 20 farmers, killings related to KAGUBAK list in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, the Massacre of Jacolbe family and the disappearance of Iver Larit of KADAMAY this year, the press release said.

The Inter Agency Committee should also look into the cases of death threats to human rights defenders in Negros Island, among them Noli Rosales, Erineo Longinos, Butch Lozande and Felipe Gelle, along with trumped up charges against activist and leaders of farmers and farmworkers organizations.

The committee must not be a tool of repression by any sitting president so that trust in justice system will emerge. It should work with promptness and impartiality and not simply douse deodorant on the stinking image of the past Duterte administration or beautify the current Marcos administration, the press release added.*

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