Alarm raised on Duterte’s responsibility for attacks on peace advocates
Peace advocates denounce the brutal of slay of Randy Malayao and continued detention of Rey Claro Casambre, Vic Ladlad and five others involved in peace negotiations.
Under past administrations, the President of the Philippines has always projected him or herself as one who respects and adheres to human rights and international humanitarian law, even if state forces had been documented as violators of human rights.
President Rodrigo Duterte has been loud and proud on his disregard for human rights. On December 22, 2018, in a speech to AFP soldiers in Compostela Valley, Mindanao, where Duterte told the soldiers not only to go after rebels, but after their so-called legal fronts and infrastructures, he expressed his rogue criminality this way, “Destroy them. Do not believe in human rights. I assume full responsibility.”
We note two glaring results of Duterte’s despicable call for the violation of human rights exacted on Filipinos working for peace.
At 2:30am, January 30, 2019, Randy Malayo, NDFP consultant for Political and Constitutional Reforms, was shot dead by assassins when the bus he was riding waited at a bus stop in Nueva Viscaya. The killing was brutal, heinous, and without justification: a human rights violations in its purest form, Randy Malayao was by all appearances assassinated by State forces.
Meanwhile at 1pm of the same afternoon, Rey Claro Casambre and his wife Cora were facing a preliminary investigation on the State’s case of illegal possession of firearms and explosives levied against them, using evidence planted at the time of their arrest on December 7, 2018. Mr. Casambre, Executive Director of the Philippines Peace Center has been detained since this date, due to another ludicrous and utterly false charge of murder and attempted murder. Regarding this charge for an incident alleged to have happened in September 2018 in Davao Oriental, Casambre’s lawyers submitted his counter affidavit stating that he was a speaker along with Secretary Bello at the Committee on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity in the House of Representatives in Batasan, Quezon City, only hours before the alleged incident. Charging Rey and Cora with illegal possession using planted evidence and keeping Rey under detention using such glaring untruths is a travesty of justice.
As peace advocates, we say to President Duterte that he has become a sloppy and sick warmonger. We hold him accountable for these attacks against peace advocates. As he stokes the fires of war and seeks to satiate his bloodlust, he is only bringing the country further from peace. Whipping soldiers and death squads towards a frenzied spilling of the blood and attacks against those involved in peace talks makes building peace even more difficult. Detaining known peace advocates and seeking to make them a bogey for his surge towards fascist tyranny or nationwide martial law exposes both desperation and an unchecked thirst for power.
There is no easy road to peace. For every human rights violation, more will rise in opposition. The Armed Forces of the Philippines has claimed that they would defeat the New People’s Army many times, over decades. A road to peace can be found in addressing the roots of the armed conflict and building a more just Philippines. This is a better choice altogether.
Duterte –who once spoke of addressing “historic injustices”— now calls for destroying dissent. We are greatly concerned for how far he and his minions will go in attacking those who have actually dared to move in public forums, dialogues, and discussions as advocates of the peace talks. As he has chosen easy targets—the ones who traveled the halls of Congress, spoke with foreign diplomats, and talked in Churches, schools, and other civil society organizations around the county, we sound the alarm that Duterte is ruining prospects for the resumption of peace negotiations that he has unilaterally terminated. We sound the alarm that if left unchecked he will continue to spill the blood of civil libertarians, human rights defenders and peace advocates.
He will punish and kill the very people who have been building bridges for peace and dialogue. In the end, the entire country will suffer the consequence, because his depraved bloodshed will not bring victory. His trumped-up charges and illegal detentions will deepen the divide with the discontented and disenfranchised, thus, further destroying the fabric of civil liberties and the rule of law, and sharpening craven corruption, criminality, and militarism within state forces.
We do hold accountable the disparate and self-absorbed fool who keeps inciting troops and death squads to destroy the nation he feigns to love. May he–like the Apostle Paul–be blinded and converted in a most fantastic miracle of modern day. If not, may God show mercy on this land!
Rt. Rev. Joel Porlares, IFI
Convenor, Pilgrims for Peace