Independent probe of activists’ killings sought

Edu Punay, Elizabeth Marcelo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The international Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for an independent investigation into the recent killings of activists in the country. 

The HRW noted that five members of militant groups were killed this month.

It called on United Nations member states to raise the issue during the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva next week.

“UN member states should ensure an international investigation into the deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines, including the thousands of unlawful killings under the Duterte administration’s... war on drugs, the killing of activists and other serious human rights violations,” the HRW said.

On Monday, Neptali Morada, 40, a member of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan was shot dead in Naga City, Camarines Sur.

A day earlier, motorcycle-riding gunmen killed Nonoy Palma, 57, a member of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Bukidnon.

On June 15, Ryan Hubilla, 22, and Nelly Bagasala, 69, volunteers for human rights group Karapatan were killed in Sorsogon also by unidentified gunmen.

Dennis Sequeña, 48, of the Partido Manggagawa ng Pilipinas was killed by motorcycle-riding assailants in Cavite on June 2.

“UN member states should not let another session of the Human Rights Council go by without adopting measures that will put serious human rights violations in the Philippines under scrutiny,” HRW Philippines researcher Carlos Conde said. 

The HRW lamented that only a few murder of activists have been seriously investigated and hardly resulted in convictions.

“Often, the military and police accuse the victims of being either members or sympathizers of the Communist Party of the Philippines or its armed wing, the New People’s Army,” the group said.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra created special teams composed of prosecutors and agents of the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the killing of members of militant groups in Bicol.

Guevarra issued Administrative Order 35 directing  the teams to determine if the incidents are politically motivated and to assist in the build up of cases.

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