Karapatan raises alarm as Cordillera police echoes Duterte’s shoot-to-kill order vs ‘communist organizers’

We strongly condemn the threats directed by the Regional Philippine National Police Office in Cordillera against alleged “communist organizers” in the region. Initial reports revealed that Regional Director Police Brigadier General R’win Pagkalinawan ordered police snipers to shoot individuals who “unnecessarily organize the masses at this time” of health crisis in the country.

We are deeply concerned about these recent threats directed by the State against human rights defenders and groups being tagged as ‘communist organizers’. This order from the police manifests how pronouncements from the President are being taken by law enforcers as legitimate orders that can be translated into brutal actions.

On Wednesday night, April 1, instead of addressing the legitimate demands of Filipinos who are grappling with the government’s perverted and inadequate response amid the coronavirus pandemic, Duterte issued death threats to anyone who questions government policies and expresses dissent.

Karapatan reiterates its call for the respect of human and people’s rights, especially in this time of a public health crisis. Tyranny will never solve the problems brought by this pandemic. With the President’s recent threats, the regime betrays its fear over the brewing social unrest.

The recent order from the Cordillera police sets a dangerous precedent especially with this regime’s relentless vilification of community and rights workers who stand in defense of people’s rights. It infringes on the right to seek redress of grievances, to uphold and defend rights, to organize and form associations, and on the exercise of freedom of expression. 

Likewise, we raise concern over the surge in the number of arrests amid the implementation of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon and in various parts of the country - measure which impedes people’s mobility and access to food, livelihood and health services which are most needed during these times. According to PNP data, a total of 20, 389 individuals were arrested for allegedly violating the curfew and for disobedience to authorities.

We urge the public to remain vigilant in light of the government’s policies and pronouncements that perpetrate human rights violations in the country.