KARAPATAN to CHR Chair: Pursue independent EJK probe in Negros

Human rights alliance KARAPATAN has asked Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Richard Palpal-latoc to look into reports that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have refused to cooperate with the CHR in Negros in the latter’s investigations into the killings of red-tagged farmers and other marginalized sectors in alleged encounters between the AFP/PNP and the New People’s Army (NPA).

CHR-Negros head Vincent Parra had disclosed to the press that “the AFP and the PNP were not transparent with their reports about the deaths brought about by alleged encounters.” He said that “even spot reports, battle reports, and investigation reports – considered public documents – were being denied to them.”

In a letter addressed to Palpal-latoc, KARAPATAN secretary general Cristina Palabay urged him to “uphold the CHR’s independent role under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, amid acts which we believe undermine the CHR’s mandate. Amid these challenges,” she added, “we ask your office to pursue these independent investigations in the interest of justice and protection of human rights.”

KARAPATAN has documented at least 35 extrajudicial killings in Negros since July 2022. From July 2016 to June 2023, we have documented 94 victims of extrajudicial killings in Negros. These include the massacre of four members of the Fausto family in June 2023 in Himamaylan City and the summary killing in February 2024 of farmer Jose Caramihan, who was reportedly slain by soldiers while he was tending his fields and later portrayed by the AFP as an NPA casualty.

“The AFP and PNP’s sorry conduct is adding fuel to well-founded suspicions that they are hellbent on preventing the truth from coming out and are complicit in promoting the climate of impunity that has impeded justice and accountability for so long,” she concluded.

*Please find the attached letter of KARAPATAN to CHR Chairperson Richard Palpal-latoc.