Slain activists’ kin seek dialogue with Guevarra

Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - April 12, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has expressed willingness to talk with the relatives of two of nine activists slain in simultaneous operations conducted by the police and the military in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) last month.

Guevarra issued the statement yesterday or days after he received a letter from Imelda Evangelista and Rosenda Lemita, mothers of slain couple Ariel and Anna Marie Evangelista, respectively.

Evangelista and Lemita were asking for a dialogue with Guevarra regarding the Bloody Sunday incident that occurred on March 7 in Batangas, Cavite and Rizal.

Guevarra, chief of the Administrative Order 35 Committee, said the AO35 Task Force has started investigating the incident.

“We are happy that the families of the victims have expressed trust in the AO 35 Committee. We will coordinate with them during the investigation,” Guevarra said.

He said he could not yet ascertain if he could personally meet with the victims’ parents, noting the prevailing community quarantine imposed by the government to curb the pandemic.

In the letter, the victims’ relatives said they want to obtain justice for their children and a dialogue with Guevarra might be the first step toward achieving it.

“The questionable death and arrest of activists in Calabarzon on March 7 was an example of a total violation of the right to life and of the law,” the victims’ relatives said in their letter.

Citing information gathered by their lawyers and rights group Karapatan, the mothers of the slain couple said the case of the nine Calabarzon activists requires utmost attention, as the warrants served against the victims were part of several warrants issued by a Manila City Regional Trial Court judge.

Evangelista and Lemita denied allegations that their children were killed because they resisted arrest.

They said prior to the March 7 killings, their families experienced harassment due to their children’s involvement in progressive organizations.

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