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VP Robredo blames Duterte’s ‘kill’ rant for massacre

Vice President Leni Robredo blamed President Rodrigo Duterte’s “finish them off” and “ignore human rights” rant for the massacre of nine civilians last Sunday, March 7.

In a statement, Robredo said she condemns the massacre she likened to the many innocents killed by the Duterte administration.

“There is no other way to describe this: it was a massacre,” Robredo said.

The Vice President noted that the incident came just two days after Duterte himself ordered the police and the military to kill suspected communists in a rant before the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in Cagayan de Oro City last frint.

“This is the painful truth: The killing of Filipinos goes unabated,” Robredo said in Filipino.

“The Filipino people deserve better than this murderous regime,” she added.

Churh groups demand justice

Meanwhile, church groups also condemned the massacre and called on Duterte to choose the rule of law over militarization.

In separate statements, the Council of the Laity of the Philippines (CLP) and Caritas Philippines, both groups under the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, called for justice.

“The blood of these fellow Filipinos are literally crying for justice as they are wiped-off from the floor tiles of their homes,” CLP, through its president Rouquel Ponte, said.

“We call on peace-loving Filipinos to make strong statements of condemnation against these brutal and organized atrocities,” it added.

“We condemn in the strongest terms the ‘Bloody Sunday initiated by the members of the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army,” Caritas for its part said.

Caritas called on the Supreme Court to fast-track the ongoing discussions and review of the controversial Anti-Terror Act the law’s opponents say emboldens the unnecessary use of force “which only victimizes the poor and the vulnerable. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Left to discuss peace talks resumption with Leni

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said it plans to engage in discussions with Vice President Leni Robredo for the resumption of its peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

Recently-appointed NDFP Negotiating Panel interim chairperson Julie de Lima said the Left should “engage the (GRP’s) constitutional successor to press for the resumption of the peace negotiation as a rallying point in the effort to oust [GRP President Rodrigo] Duterte,” the Communist Party of the Philippines’ Ang Bayan reported.

“[T]he NDFP, including its panel, should hold discussions with opposition parties, in particular, the Liberal Party,” de Lima told the underground newsletter.

She added that prospects for resuming the peace negotiations after Duterte, whether he is ousted or he finishes his term, “are possible and desirable.”

De Lima pointed out the peace negotiations can immediately resume on the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) once Duterte is out of office.  

Duterte cancelled the peace negotiations in July 2017 as both the GRP and NDFP were ready to finalize important agreements under the CASER.

Prior to her new appointment, de Lima is a long-time NDFP Negotiating Panel member and head of its Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms.

CASER to combat COVID-19

The CASER, de Lima said, has relevant provisions on confronting the issue of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The draft agreement has a whole article consisting of seven sections which are devoted to the discussion of the people’s right to health. This includes the establishment of a universal public health system that provides free, comprehensive and quality health services for all,” de Lima explained.

The CASER provides immediate and adequate financial, material, moral and psychosocial support, ensuring disaster preparedness and respons, and holding criminally and civilly liable corrupt and grossly negligent officials, she added.

“The NDFP and GRP can elaborate on the issue based on a summing up of experience and learning lessons from both sides as well as from the positive and negative practices of foreign countries and international agencies in responding and confronting this particular pandemic as well as other pandemics.”

Robredo has yet to respond to Kodao’s request for a reply to de Lima’s statement. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

LODI asks Robredo to stop ‘disinformation’ surrounding drug war

An alliance of artists and journalists asked newly-appointed Interagency Committee on Illegal Drugs (ICAD) co-chairperson, Vice President Leni Robredo, to include among her top priorities stopping and investigating “what is clearly a policy of disinformation, misinformation and information manipulation surrounding the government’s drug war.”

In a statement, the Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity (LODI) asked Robredo to seek disclosures to many pressing questions on the drug war, particularly the unsolved deaths of tens of thousands of victims.

The group asked Robredo the following:

1. Who are the country’s biggest druglords, and the status of investigations or prosecutions against them, if any? Who are the officials protecting or providing them with lenient, special treatment?
2. What information does the ICAD member-agencies have regarding the entry of illegal drugs from abroad, and what steps they have taken to stop them?
3. What is the status of investigations or prosecutions against former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon in connection with the disappearance of billions worth of shabu, against “ninja cops” led by former Philippine National Police Chief Oscar Albayalde, and other top officials, and those who gifted three convicted Chinese drug lords with early release?
4. What is the status of investigations or prosecutions into the “narco lists” publicized by the president?
5. What is the status of investigations or prosecutions into every case of extrajudicial killing or deaths in the hands of the police?
6. What is the status of investigations or prosecutions into policemen identified as perpetrators of extrajudicial killings?
7. Who are the other convicted top drug lords freed under BuCor Directors Bato dela Rosa and Faeldon?
8. Where are the lists and actual inventories of shabu and illegal drugs seized by police in their operations?
9. Which private drug testing companies are involved in the many drug testing activities of government, the amount of taxpayer funds provided to them, and the status of all private/personal medical information in the possession?

“The answers to these and many other questions are important in assessing the conduct of the so-called drug war. Agencies and officials of government are duty-bound to provide the answers to taxpayers and all citizens,” LODI said.

The group also asked Robredo to press ICAD member-agencies to be open to public feedback and criticism and to invite in her capacity as ICAD co-chair United Nations (UN) special rapporteurs “so they could do their work, provide government and the public an independent view, and make their recommendations.”

In November 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to slap UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard should she decide to push through with her investigations on the drug war.

 Speaking to overseas Filipino workers in Vietnam, Duterte said, “Kaya sabi ko kay Callamard, kung imbestigahan mo ako, sampalin kita. “ (That’s why I told Callamard, if you investigate me, I’ll slap you.)

Meanwhile, Robredo presided over her first ICAD briefing on Friday, reminding law enforcement agencies to reconsider current drug war strategies to prevent “senseless killings.”

Robredo said the new anti-illegal drug campaign should target the drug problem, not “our people.”

 “Maybe it’s time to think about a new campaign with something more effective, where no one dies senselessly,” Robredo told attending officials in the briefing.

Earlier, Robredo promised that “[t]he anti-drug campaign will continue with the same vigor, intensity.”

“What we will change is the manner by which it is implemented,” Robredo added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)