Opposition Senator Leila de Lima has called on the Senate to investigate the rising number of farmer leaders and political activists being killed amid the national government’s anti-insurgency campaign, which has intensified at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

DELIMA - De Lima urges Senate probe on killing of political activists
Senator Leila de Lima (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

In filing Senate Resolution No. 548, De Lima said a Senate probe into these reported killings and other human rights is warranted in order to ensure transparency in the government’s anti-insurgency operations.

“While the rest of the country is dealing with the debilitating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns, the government’s anti-insurgency campaign has not only persisted, but rather escalated,” De Lima said.

“State agents’ blatant red-tagging of its perceived enemies is an attack on the very foundations of our democracy and constitutes a grave abuse of authority and a gross misappropriation of public funds which can be utilized for more constructive purposes, such as augmenting the government’s pandemic response,” she added.

The detained senator pointed out the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has repeatedly cautioned the government on the dangers of carelessly “red-tagging” persons and groups as these may “trigger a number of human rights violations, including harassment, unlawful arrests, torture and threats to life.”

De Lima said that while the government should not condone the illegal acts of the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) and other leftist groups, the state “should also condemn red-tagging campaigns, especially from within the government.”

“These can have a legitimizing effect on these unverified claims and pose immediate dangers and consequences for the individuals and groups who become targets of such labels,” she pointed out.

“There can be no shortcuts taken in the government’s anti-insurgency campaign as these can lead to the unnecessary targeting of progressive groups and organizations and the unjust killing of innocent individuals,” the senator said.

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