The Australian nun deported by the Rodrigo Duterte government condemned the string of assassinations and massacres of indigenous peoples, farmers, and critics during the holiday season.
Sr. Patricia Fox, NDS, deported in April 2018 on allegations she attended a protest rally in Davao City, said the Duterte government rushed to commit more human rights abuses before the year 2020 ended.
Speaking as spokesperson of the Asia-Pacific Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (APCHRP), Sr. Fox said President Duterte took advantage of the Covid-19 lockdowns to orchestrate a crackdown on activists, with many being arrested on dubious charges while several others were killed.
“Two days before the year ended, the Duterte regime’s armed operatives launched simultaneous police and military operations in the islands of Panay and Bohol that resulted in the death of 10 people and the arrest of 17 others,” Sr. Fox said.
The nun cited the massacre of nine Tumandok tribespeople and the arrest of 17 others in Panay Island and the assassination of activist farmer Lorenzo “Dodoy” Paña in Bohol province last December 30.
Sr. Fox echoed reports by local human rights organizations that the simultaneous raids in Tapaz, Capiz province and Calinog, Iloilo province were cold-blooded execution of the victims.
“Family members of Eliseo Gayas, one of the men killed, narrated how they were ordered to go out of their house. When armed operatives entered, they killed Eliseo outright with four gunshots. Two other victims – Mario Aguirre and Roy Giganto – had their houses forcibly entered as operatives shot them dead inside while they were asleep, in the presence of their respective families,” Sr. Fox said.
Paña, like those massacred and arrested in Panay, was a red-tagging victim and no stranger to harassment by State forces, the nun pointed out.
“These senseless murders are a continuation of the string of human rights attacks we have witnessed this year against activists, lawyers, farmers, trade unionists, and even health workers,” Sr. Fox said.
In the same statement, the APCHRP said it strongly condemns the killing of nine Tumandok in Panay Island and the assassination of Dodoy Paña in Bohol.
“We also call for the immediate release of the 17 indigenous activists arrested in the same operation in Panay,” the APCHRP said.
The year 2020 will be forever remembered as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic recessions it caused. However, it should also be noted as the apex of the Duterte regime’s barbarity and utter disregard for human rights, the group added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)