Duterte’s kill-kill-kill policy through NTF-ELCAC led to Bloody Sunday killings, arrests

“If there’s an encounter and you see them armed, kill, kill them, don’t mind human rights, I will be the one to go to prison, I don’t have qualms.” President Rodrigo Duterte was quoted saying these orders to the police and military in a meeting in Cagayan de Oro City of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) on March 5, 2021 — two days before the Bloody Sunday raids throughout Southern Tagalog on March 7, 2021.

As the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Administrative Order No. 35 task force yesterday recommended the filing of murder complaints against 17 policemen involved in the raid that killed Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – Cavite coordinator and long-time labor leader Emmanuel “Manny” Asuncion, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay asserted that Duterte and NTF-ELCAC officials should be held accountable for the killings in the Bloody Sunday raids.

“Manny Asuncion and the eight others killed in the Bloody Sunday raids were unarmed civilians and were sleeping during the dawn raids. And yet, even when they pleaded for their lives, they were mercilessly and brutally murdered. Weapons were planted in their homes. President Duterte’s words before the raids and pronouncements during the previous years, and the statements of NTF-ELCAC officials have clearly and directly led to their deaths,” Palabay stated.

The Karapatan official demanded that Antonio Parlade Jr. and Debold Sinas, who were respectively the military’s Southern Luzon Commander and director of the Philippine National Police during the raids, be held accountable as she called for a “comprehensive and independent investigation on the direct links of Duterte’s pronouncements to the killings and other atrocities committed by State forces in the government’s counterinsurgency policy.”

“There is a method to this State terror madness, and it all points to a policy framework that foments war crimes, particularly by brazenly violating the principle of distinction between civilians and combatants and the blatant disregard of human rights and principles of international humanitarian law — a militarist framework being implemented through NTF-ELCAC’s whole-of-nation approach,” she added.

Palabay further said that the critical voices and protests at the national and international level condemning the Bloody Sunday incidents, such as the condemnation of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, resulted in this partial action of the DOJ recommending the filing of murder complaints against law enforcement agents involved in the killing of Asuncion.

“Aside from the actions on the killings and arrests of others victimized during the Bloody Sunday raids, what needs to be further emphasized is the command responsibility of President Duterte and the NTF-ELCAC. The Bloody Sunday incidents are among the most stark reasons why the NTF-ELCAC needs to be abolished and why President Duterte is accountable for these gruesome crimes against the Filipino people,” she ended.