Karapatan calls DOJ panel reso on Asuncion murder complaint a form of whitewash

Karapatan is appalled at the resolution and views of the panel of prosecutors by the Justice Department on the murder complaint filed against 17 personnel of the Philippine National Police on the killing of trade union leader Emmanuel “Manny” Asuncion.

Asuncion is among the nine activists and indigenous peasants killed during the Bloody Sunday police raids on March 7, 2021. Information on the incidents are available through this link: https://bit.ly/3IWl8El

The resolution dismissing the complaint of Asuncion’s wife Liezl essentially affirmed the police’s claims of presumption of regularity and wrongful allegations that Asuncion fought back – blatantly disregarding all facts, evidence and the context of the case. The same police lines were used during the Duterte administration’s drug war which resulted in thousands of extrajudicial killings, and had been the go-to justification of authorities since the Bloody Sunday killings.

No one, except for the bloodthirsty in government, bought these lines because the facts and context are so glaringly clear. And what are the facts?

Since 2018, the National Task Force on Local Communist Armed Conflict has been on red-tagging spree, launching witch-hunt campaigns against “communists” which is merely code for anyone and everyone who expresses dissent on policies of the Duterte administration, thereby endangering their lives and security.

Two days before the incidents, President Rodrigo Duterte publicly ordered his soldiers and police to kill communists.

The PNP, claiming that Asuncion and the others killed and arrested are NPA members, has publicly acknowledged that its operatives, together with other state agents, conducted the said raids in Southern Tagalog, pursuant to search warrants issued by Manila courts. NTF-ELCAC officials said these were “legitimate police operations.”

Witnesses and families, despite fear and trauma, have said: their loved ones were civilians, they had no guns or explosives because they had no money to buy such, they were killed or arrested in the dead of the night, the masked police who conducted the raids covered their nameplates or did not introduce themselves while they drove out all possible witnesses when they made their kills, there is sufficient opportunity for operatives to plant evidence and contaminate or stage the crime scenes, among others. Forensic experts have argued that mere paraffin tests, including the one presented by the police in Asuncion’s case, are unreliable bases to establish possession of guns, and certainly the say-so of the accused cops are highly unreliable, unbelievable and self-serving testimonies.

The resolution cannot be seen as a mere result of seemingly deliberate lack of due diligence by authorities – it is tantamount to a whitewash of the murder of Asuncion and many others who were victims in the Bloody Sunday incidents.

Karapatan denounces this blatant cover-up on the killing of Asuncion, as we continue to express support for his family and colleagues in our collective plight for justice.