“We condemn in strongest possible terms the recent killing of four more farmers, adding to the 42 political killings under the Duterte administration. To say that there are no extra-judicial killings in the country, whether perpetrated through counter-insurgency programs or through the war on drugs, is covering up State accountability when its official policies sanctioned the sufferings of the poor majority of Filipino people,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay on the killing of four farmers in Compostela Valley, as well as recent statements by the Philippine National Police that there are no extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. 

Palabay said that “such a claim is an outright lie – a lie wielded by those who think that press statements and powerpoint presentations are sufficient excuses to rid them of the responsibility for the series of killings. If indeed crimes rates have gone down, these shouldn’t be used to justify extrajudicial killings. The PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines should stop giving illusory statements that everything is fine and people are living well.”

On March 23, 2017, around 4 a.m., Pedro Pandagay, 48, was shot in Brgy. Anitapan, Mabini, Compostela Valley. Two armed men, allegedly from the 46th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army, forcefully entered Pandagay’s home and shot him in front of his children. Pandagay is one of the board of directors of Golden Valley Banana Planters Association in Mabini. 

Days later, on March 27, 2017, three more farmers and members of Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Laak (NAMULAK) were shot dead in two separate incidents. Around 3pm, Cora Molave Lina, 45, was gunned down inside her residence. She was brought to the hospital but was declared dead on arrival. Lina has been repeatedly called to visit the 60th IBPA camp and has been red-tagged by the military as an NPA supporter. On the evening of the same day, peasant couple Arman and Arlyn Almonicar , also members of NAMULAK, were also shot dead in Brgy. Bollukan, Laak, Compostela Valley.

“Extrajudicial killings, including those from the Arroyo, Aquino and the present administration, in rural and urban areas have made it more incumbent on all of us to speak up, to condemn, to resist. Choosing silence is a disservice to all those who have been killed because of State repression,” said Palabay. 

“Efforts of journalists to report on extra-judicial killings in the Philippines should be lauded, instead of being toned down, as efforts to report on the situation on the ground. In fact, we enjoin journalists to report on the increasing number of political killings, illegal arrests, bombing of communities and other human rights abuses of State actors, in relation to the counter-insurgency program and all-out-war of the Duterte regime and the AFP. We encourage the media to look deeper into the context of the dire lack of public housing, land, secure jobs and living wages, and transgressions on national sovereignty,” Palabay added. 

“What are needed to solve crimes and substantially address the social malaise causing insecurity among Filipinos are reforms that address landlessness, lack of secure jobs and living wages, accessible social services and utilities, rural development and national industrialization, the upholding of our national sovereignty and patrimony, and nipping corruption in the bud. Police and military actions, especially those that cause terror among the poor, have been proven to be mere band aid solutions to the festering problems and wounds of poverty,” Palabay ended.