Peasant group hits 'insincere' Malacañang condemnation of activist killings
Family, colleagues, and legal counsels hold dialogue with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to seek independent probe on the assassination of Anakpawis Chair and peace consultant Randall “Ka Randy” Echanis.
Released / Anakpawis Party-list

Peasant group hits 'insincere' Malacañang condemnation of activist killings

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - August 20, 2020 - 6:20pm

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang's response to the recent string of activist killings was far from sincere, a peasant group said on Thursday, calling the Palace denial a "belated and acrid statement" supposedly condemning the recent murders of human rights workers. 

This comes after presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday denounced the killings of peace consultant Randy Echanis and human rights worker Zara Alvarez, but in the same breath denying that the Duterte administration, which has not taken kindly to dissenting activists, had a hand in the killings. 

“We denounce any form of violence perpetuated against citizens, including activists,” Roque said in a statement. “We are a nation of laws; and violence has no place in any civilized society, [but] blaming state forces as the people behind these murders is unfounded as investigation on the killings of Randall Echanis and Zara Alvarez is now underway. Let us wait for the formal report from the authorities."

RELATED: PNP 'art' tags activists as terrorists amid debate on anti-terrorism bill

In a statement on Thursday, farmers alliance Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said that Roque "was only obliged to issue the said statement after the outpouring public outrage" over the successive killings of Echanis and Alvarez. Progressive groups have already made it clear that they pin the blame on state forces, with rights monitor Karapatan, Anakpawis party-list, and fisherfolk federation Pamalakaya all asserting that the killings were politically motivated. 

Echanis and Alvarez, both former political prisoners and both of whom were were included in the 2018 proscription list by the justice department branding them as terrorists, were brutally murdered just one week apart on August 10 and later on August 17, respectively. Both were prominent activists in the field of human rights advocacy.

"They were practically branded as enemies of the state, therefore considered as 'high-value targets for neutralization' under the government's so-called counterinsurgency programs...The majority of the activists killed under previous and present administration were first tagged as supporters of the CPP-NPA-NDF, unjustly tagged as 'communist-terrorists,' became subjects of vilification campaigns, and were persecuted legally through trumped-up charges," KMP said in its statement. 

RELATED: Anti-communist task force, PCOO spread false claims on ABS-CBN franchise

"We demand justice for the killing of Echanis, Alvarez, and all victims of extrajudicial killings. We will not stop until those accountable for the brutal killing of Ka Randy are punished," says Danilo Ramos, chairperson of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

As it stands, the government's anti-insurgency task force has more than once been caught in a lie with its social media posts. One claimed, incorrectly, that ABS-CBN's "request for franchise renewal was disapproved" because of legal issues raised against the network. It also said that communist rebels were "taking advantage" of the closure of the broadcast giant, though it provided no basis for saying so. 

Even the national police has vilified left-leaning activists, critics of the administration, and even party-list representatives on its official social media channels, branding them as armed terrorists. 

READ: Dura 'Likes': PNP social media rules and what police actually post

Exercising one's right to dissent and being an armed rebel are two very different things. 

KILUSANG MAGBUBUKID NG PILIPINAS KMP PALACE PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON HARRY ROQUE
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