No justice for Bloody Sunday victims shows naked impunity in PH

Three years after the Bloody Sunday raids of March 7, 2021, justice remains beyond the victims’ grasp.

The Bloody Sunday police and military raids saw simultaneous early morning operations in Cavite, Batangas, Rizal and Laguna, ostensibly to serve warrants on 24 individuals. The raids resulted in the extrajudicial killings of nine activists and the illegal arrests of six others. The raids came two days after Rodrigo Duterte ordered his minions to “ignore human rights” and “finish off communist rebels.” As expected, the Philippine National Police (PNP) justified the killings during the region-wide dragnet by using the familiar “nanlaban” narrative, an already dubious and overused pretext to rationalize the killings of thousands of drug suspects.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and its task force created in 2012 under Administrative Order No. 35 (AO35) to probe extrajudicial killings and related crimes, went through the motions of investigating the Bloody Sunday killings. But the DOJ, rarely known to live up to its name as a dispenser of justice, dealt the victims a double whammy when it announced the dismissal of the murder charges against the policemen involved in the killing of BAYAN-Cavite coordinator Manny Asuncion in January 2023 and of activist couple Ariel and Anna Mariz Evangelista in March 2023. It is likely set on doing the same in the case of the other victims.

These cases are among the most emblematic in showcasing the continuing failure of domestic redress mechanisms to address the need for justice and accountability of police and military forces. The brazenness of state-sanctioned attacks as well as the government’s direct role in whitewashing these crimes in the name of “countering terrorism” speak of the naked impunity that exists to this day.

Karapatan firmly stands in solidarity with the families, colleagues and friends of the Bloody Sunday victims in their pursuit of justice and accountability and an end to impunity.