By Joey Natividad
CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region, Philippines – A protest march held in this city Wednesday has stunned city residents over the huge participation of rallyists who were wearing red T-shirts, angry protesters pouring out their condemnation over the Monday killing of Neptali Morada, a Nagueno, during that time when progressive groups were protesting over the killing Saturday of two human rights activists in Sorsogon City.
The huge crowd of rallyists, stretching from SM mall in Naga’s new Central Business District up to San Francisco Church at the city’s old central business district has impressed residents about the thousands of participants, while observers were also amazed about the organization efficiency of launching wide-scale mobilization within a day’s notice.
Protest organizer BAYAN-Bicol has declared: “In time for Dr. Jose Rizal’s 158th birthday, thousands of activists in Bicol join regional protest caravan today Wednesday, June 19, to protest against the intensified tyranny of PNP-AFP forces of US-Duterte regime.”
According to organizers, the protest march named as “Kilos Bikolano Laban sa Tiraniya”, activists from six provinces were divided into three (3) groups. They marched and merged to Plaza Rizal in Naga City to hold their main program.
Bayan – Bicol quoted Jose Rizal saying “I wish to show those who deny us patriotism that we know how to die for our duty and convictions”.
“Based on the present political situation here in Bicol, it is obvious and undeniable who is really patriotic and who is not,” said Dan Balucio, spokesperson of BAYAN Bicol.
“Duterte’s termination orders”
According to Balucio, Rodrigo Duterte is eager to implement nationwide Martial Law that’s why he intensified its counter-insurgency Oplan Kapanatagan, MO 32 and Executive Order No. 70 which the Duterte Government called it the ‘whole-of-nation-approach’ through the so-called National Task Force To End Communist Armed Conflict.
“In the ‘whole-of-nation’ program, the civilian bureaucracy of the Government is subject to the command of the military and police. It is a direct militarization of the civilian bureaucracy. Basic social service programs are set in the counterinsurgency program and violates the human rights of the masses,” Balucio added.
BAYAN Bicol condemns the brutal killings of activists in the region recently. “They sacrificed their lives, died for their duty as human rights defenders and with conviction to serve the masses despite harassment from the AFP-PNP forces”, said Vince Casilihan, the group’s information officer.
Murder of civilian activists
Former Popular Campaigns Committee head of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) -Bicol, Nephtali Morada, was gunned down along the road in Barangay San Isidro, Naga City on Monday, June 17, on his way to work.
While on Saturday, June 15, two human rights workers were killed close range by two unidentified gunmen along the road of Phase 2, Seabreeze Homes Subdivision, barangay Cabid-an in Sorsogon province. The victims were Ryan Hubilla, a senior high school student and Karapatan Sorsogon staff, and Nelly Bagasala of Sorsogon Peoples’ Organization, a network of Karapatan Sorsogon.
“We seek justice to these activists and legit members of Karapatan Sorsogon and Bayan Bicol respectively. It is already expected that PNP will disrespect and will question their identities.,” said Bayan-Bicol, in a statement given to the press.
de facto Martial Law
“We believe the PNP and AFP are behind the killings of activists under Oplan Kapanatagan, MO 32 and EO 70. This is what Rodrigo Duterte really wanted after canceling the peace talks – use the PNP-AFP forces to silence the progressive groups, activists and individuals to fully implement Martial Law.”
Since Duterte became the president of the country, Bicol region already recorded 61 extrajudicial killings which six (6) of these – four (4) victims in Sorsogon, one (1) in Masbate and one in Camarines Sur – were under the implementation of MO 32 since November 2018. [BicolToday.com]