Philippines: Karapatan calls for broader accountability for Bloody Sunday victims beyond police officers executing orders
"Duterte, NTF-ELCAC, etc must also be held accountable for the killing of Evangelista couple, other Bloody Sunday victims", 15 January 2022
While human rights alliance Karapatan welcomed the filing of murder complaints against the police personnel involved in the service of search warrants that killed fisherfolk leaders Ariel Evangelista and Ana-Mariz “Chai” Lemita-Evangelista during the Bloody Sunday raids throughout Southern Tagalog last March 7, 2021, the group asserted that President Rodrigo Duterte, officials of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), then-Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Debold Sinas and the PNP’s regional and provincial officials, and judges who issued the questionable search warrants must be held accountable as well.
The raids led to the killing of nine individuals and the arrest of four human rights defenders. December last year, murder complaints were also filed against cops involved in the raid of the Workers Assistance Center office in Dasmarinas, Cavite which resulted in the killing of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – Cavite coordinator and trade union leader Emmanuel Asuncion...
“then-Police Regional Office 4A chief and now PNP Special Action Force director Felipe Natividad, and provincial police heads Col. Rex Malimban of Batangas and Col. Marlon Santos of Cavite should likewise be investigated on their command responsibility for the said incidents. Manila Regional Trial Court judges Jason Zapanta and Jose Lorenzo Dela Rosa, who issued the search warrants against the Evangelista couple and Asuncion respectively, should likewise be subjects of scrutiny.”
[On] January 14, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced in a press statement that the National Bureau of Investigation had filed murder complaints against 17 officers ... for the operation that killed the Evangelista couple... The Evangelista couple were staff members and leaders of the Ugnayan ng Mamamayan Laban sa Pagwawasak ng Kalikasan at Kalupaan, a community organization that monitors the impacts of eco-tourism projects in Batangas...
“... There will be no genuine justice for the victims of the Bloody Sunday raids if not all perpetrators and accomplices in these attacks are made accountable — especially those at the top who explicitly gave such murderous orders and those who continue to justify and legitimize these killings — and as long as the killings, arrests, and harassment of human rights defenders continue”