Press Release
July 29, 2019

De Lima: No to martial law in Negros Island!

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima today vowed to oppose any move to place Negros Island under martial law following the continued spate of killings that left 13 people dead in less than one week.

"Placing Negros Island under martial rule will only lead to the escalation of violence and oppression in the region," said De Lima, a staunch critic of Duterte's anti-drug campaign that has killed thousands of Filipinos.

According to her, the spate of killings has jumped since the government issued Memorandum Order No. 32 on Nov. 22, 2018, deploying additional troops to Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and Bicol Region to help suppress lawless violence.

"Since the issuance of Duterte's directive, the deployment of more policemen and soldiers has resulted in more killings. Killings have even increased and declaring martial law would only aggravate the worsening human rights situation in the region," she added.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Negros Secretary General Michael de la Concepcion raised suspicion that the recent rise of killings in the region is a pretext for a possible declaration of martial law.

It may be recalled that since July 23, at least 13 people were reportedly killed in different towns and cities in Negros Oriental, including human rights lawyer Anthony Trinidad who was killed by still unidentified motorcycle-riding gunmen.

Two days later, armed men barged into the home of school principal Arthur Bayawa in Bgy. Hibaiyo around 1 AM and killed him and his sister Ardale. An hour later, armed men stormed the house of Bgy. Buenavista chairman Romeo Alipan and shot him several times.

Also, Marlon Ocampo and his one-year-old son were killed inside their home in Sta. Catalina, while Fedirico Sabejon, a resident of Siaton town, was also killed in his home the following day.

On July 27, armed men broke into the house of Canlaon City councilor Ramon Jalandoni gunned him down around 12:14 a.m. Two hours later, unidentified gunmen shot dead former Ayungon town mayor Edsel Enardecido and his cousin in Ayungon. Also killed was Ernesto Posadas, barangay captain of Panubigan in Canlaon City.

"Sa halip na sugpuin ang karahasan, lalo pang tumaas ang bilang ng patayan, lalo na sa hanay ng mga nagtatangol sa karapatang pantao at mga Pilipinong walang kalaban-laban," said De Lima, a champion of human rights and social justice.

De Lima, former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, reiterated her call for the government to rescind Memorandum Order No. 32, which she blamed for the recent killing spree.

"It seems M.O. 32 is the culprit," she said.

"It's very obvious that Duterte's directive was not to quell insurgency but to silence his critics and dissenters of his flawed policies. I reiterate my call on our government to withdraw this order and put a stop to these senseless killings," she added.

De Lima has reintroduced her measure seeking to provide much-needed protection for human rights defenders (HRDs) who have been subjected to harassment and intimidation for helping the victims of human rights abuses.

She explained that her Senate Bill No. 179 seeks to institutionalize and enforce state obligations to provide protection to HRDs, and to establish effective legal remedies for violations of the rights of HRDs.

Based on the official records of human rights group Karapatan, at least 134 human rights defenders - and still counting - have been killed since Mr. Duterte assumed the presidency in June 2016.

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