Hontiveros seeks senate inquiry into vigilante killings in 2020

Senator Risa Hontiveros has called for a Senate investigation into the spate of unlawful killings in the Philippines, filing the resolution a few days after the murder of Dr. Mary Rose Sancelan and her husband, Edwin, in Negros Oriental.

The senator’s proposed Senate Resolution No. 599 seeks to attain justice for the Sancelans and other slain victims of unlawful and vigilante killings. The resolution, which also aims to restore law and order in the country, was co-signed by Senators Frank Drilon, Ralph Recto, Richard Gordon, Nancy Binay, Joel Villanueva, Kiko Pangilinan, and Leila de Lima.

“At a time of the biggest health crisis the country has ever seen, I am alarmed that this anti-communist agenda reigned over the literal health and survival of the Filipino people. Dr. Sancelan and her husband are only few of the victims of a failing and senseless red-tagging campaign hellbent on crippling our democracy. This attack is only one of the many horrific killings in the country, legitimized by an administration that has distorted the meaning of human rights,” the senator said.

Hontiveros also spoke out against the vicious and deadly practice of red-tagging individuals. This comes as Dr. Sancelan, the head of the local Inter-Agency Task Force and the sole health doctor in Gihulngan City, was tagged as a member of NPA-Central Negros by KAGUBAK, an anti-communist vigilante group in Negros Oriental.

“I ask everyone, especially our own government officials, to cease all careless and pernicious redtagging of our people. Innocent lives are at stake. When you openly vilify and tag civilians as communist rebels, you only lend credence to the suspicion that you have blood on your hands,” Hontiveros said.

“At the same time, there are also others who were not redtagged but have become victims of these killings. We need to look into this at once,” she added.

In PSR No. 599, the senator detailed the litany of killings that occurred this year, including the murder of lawyer Jovencio Senados, who was killed on his way to work as Manila City Prosecutor’s Office’s Division Chief; the murder of peasant leader and activist Randall Echanis, who was gruesomely tortured before being killed; the murder of former Education Director of Human Rights Alliance KARAPATAN Zara Alvarez; and the murder of elderly couple and former peace consultants Agaton Topacio and Eugenia Magpantay, among many others.

“The killings that occurred in the latter half of the year have set a disturbing trend of unidentified gunmen killing lawyers, doctors, journalists, and activists in broad daylight, without fear of arrest or apprehension. The increasing brazenness shows that the law enforcement authorities have lost control of the country’s peace and order,” Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros then urged the country’s law enforcement to work tirelessly, endlessly, properly, and lawfully to catch the assailants and to prevent more unlawful and vigilante killings from happening.

“Our law enforcement must prove to the Filipino public that law and order is still a reality that they are working towards. Let us ensure that the perpetrators of these abominable crimes are brought to justice. There is no peace when there is no justice,” Hontiveros concluded. SENATE.GOV.PH