More than 500 human rights advocates sign statement calling for a stop to the killings in the Philippines

On the occasion of National Heroes Day, more than 500 human rights advocates from here and abroad are calling on the Philippine government to end the spate of killings that has claimed the lives of several activists over the past few months. 

The initial signatories include more than 100 lawyers from all over the country, opposition lawmakers, artists, religious leaders, academics, environmental defenders, medical professionals and social activists who are raising the alarm over what they described as “the increasing use of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) against activists, political dissenters and members of the opposition.”

The signatories are demanding “an end to the killings and a stop to the red-tagging and vilification of activists, human rights defenders and government critics.” They want President Rodrigo Duterte himself to “denounce the killings and to stop inciting the police and military and even ordinary civilians to commit such horrible acts.” 

Signatories of the statement include Catholic bishops Broderick Pabillo and Gerardo Alminaza, Benedictine nun Mary John Mananzan of the Movement Against Tyranny, Bro. Armin Luistro of the La Salle Brothers, former Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, opposition senators Francis Pangilinan, Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros. Members of the House opposition were led by Minority Leader Rep. Bienvenido Abante, Deputy Minority Leader Carlos Zarate, Albay representative Edcel Lagman and Quezon City representative Jose Christopher Belmonte. 

The more than 100 Philippine lawyers include stalwarts of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, the Free Legal Assistance Group and the Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties. Several signatories have earlier helped in the filing of petitions against the Anti-Terrorism Law. The Philippine Lawyers are joined by more than 50 foreign lawyers and law organizations. 

Artists who signed up include Agot Isidro, Iza Calzado, Ria Atayde, Pinky Amador, Ma. Isabel Lopez, Monique Wilson, Joel Lamangan, Chris Millado and Angeli Bayani. Social media personalities Macoy Dubs and Aling Marie also signed the statement. Close to a hundred academics and educators from different fields also supported the call. 

Activist groups and trade unions, from across the political spectrum are also uniting behind the call to stop the killings.