“Bloody Sunday” in Southern Tagalog leaves at least three arrested, five reportedly killed in tokhang-style police raids

At least three progressive leaders were confirmed arrested and five more were reportedly killed in early morning “tokhang-style” police raids on the houses and offices of activists in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, and Rizal today, March 7, which human rights watchdog Karapatan called a “Bloody Sunday” crackdown on labor unions, peasant organizers, mass organizations, and human rights defenders in the Southern Tagalog region.

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said that “like the Gestapo-esque police raids in Negros which led to the mass arrests of activists and progressive leaders through search warrants manufactured from the government’s factory of lies, the Duterte regime is now unleashing the unbridled horrors of fascism and the crackdown on dissent upon the Southern Tagalog region using the same dirty tactics.”

“Nothing could be more apt than calling this day a ‘Bloody Sunday.’ The fascist Duterte regime spares no day in its murderous campaign of State terror with the arrests and killings of labor leaders, organizers, activists, and human rights workers in tokhang- style raids Southern Tagalog today — along with peddling the same lies and dirty tactics, from the bogus search warrants, the ‘nanlaban’ narrative to the tanim-ebidensiya scheme to justify these arrests and killings,” Palabay stated.

Karapatan obtained the following information and reports:

Manny Asuncion, coordinator of the Cavite chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN), was confirmed killed during the police raid in the office of the Workers’ Assistance Center in Dasmariñas, Cavite. According to witnesses, the police even dragged his bloodied corpse across the floor. Fisherfolk leaders Chai Lemita-Evangelista and Ariel Evangelista, meanwhile, were confirmed to have been killed in police raids in Nasugbu, Batangas. Their 10-year old son reportedly hid under a bed and witnessed the killing of his parents. Melvin Dasigao and Mark Lee Coros Bacasno of urban poor group Sikkad Montalban were also reportedly killed in raids in Montalban, Rizal.

Labor leader Esteban Mendoza, the vice president of Olalia – Kilusang Mayo Uno, as well as BAYAN – Laguna spokesperson Elizabeth Camoral were also arrested in separate police raids in Cabuyao, Laguna through search warrants issued by Executive Judge Lorenzo Dela Rosa of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 4. Nimfa Lanzanas, 61, a Karapatan paralegal to political prisoners and member of Kapatid – Timog Katagalugan, was also arrested in a raid in Calamba, Laguna. Nimfa’s son, Edward, has been in jail since 2014 on similar trumped-up charges.

Their arrests and killings today follow the arrests of Arnedo Lagunias, former officer of Lakas Manggagawang Nagkakaisa sa Honda and Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Enklabo, and Ramir Corcolon, secretary general of Water System Employees Response and a national council member of the Confederation for the Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees, in Sta. Rosa and San Pablo City, Laguna, respectively, last Thursday, March 4.

The Karapatan official averred that this spate of raids, arrests, and killings are “clearly the handiwork of the rabid red-tagger Antonio Parlade Jr. as the military’s Southern Luzon commander and the spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. Obediently heeding the president’s kill, kill, kill orders like the lapdog that he is, Parlade has now exceeded the brutality of fascist butcher Jovito Palparan in letting loose a murderous rampage without any attempt to disguise it.”

“Our calls for justice ring louder more than ever as we demand the release of all those arrested in Southern Tagalog and all political prisoners, and to hold accountable the perpetrators of the killings in the region today. The Commission on Human Rights must investigate these raids and ensure that justice and accountability is served for the victims of State terror and fascism. We will not be silenced, and we call on all Filipinos to condemn these raids and to stand with us in the struggle for justice and in defending people’s rights,” Palabay concluded.