Press Release
August 27, 2019

Hontiveros urges gov't: Stop Negros killings, prevent lawless violence in PH

"Whether the culprits are government forces or the New People's Army (NPA), the question is still the same: How do we stop these killings?"

This was the remark of Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros, who urged government to not only solve and bring justice in the cases of killings in Negros Oriental, but also ensure that no similar outbreak in violence will occur elsewhere in the country.

Hontiveros made the statement as the Senate began its investigation in the killings in the province from July 18, 2019 to August 18, 2019 which left at least 25 people - mostly unarmed civilians - dead. The probe was prompted by Senate Resolution No. 47 which was filed by Hontiveros earlier this month.

According to Hontiveros, the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) should "leave no stone unturned" in its efforts to find out who are behind the killings in Negros, which include among its victims former Ayungon town mayor Edsel Enardecido, lawyer Anthony Trinidad, and 1-year old baby Marjon Ocampo.

Government security agencies and the NPA have accused each other of being responsible for the killings in Negros Oriental, a known hotbed of the communist insurgency. The rise in shooting incidents began after four police intelligence officers were killed in an ambush by the NPA in the town of Ayungon. Since then, the killings have gone on unabated - with as many as 7 people killed in a single day - even with the increase in police and military forces deployed to the province.

"We have to bring to justice those who are behind these killings, whatever their identity and affiliation. Nothing will ever justify the wanton murder of defenseless persons - which in many of these recent killings were committed inside the homes of the victims and in front of their traumatized families," she said.

Stop culture of violence

Hontiveros said that apart from seeking justice for the families of those slain in Negros Oriental, government should also create policies that will address the roots of conflict not only in the province, but also in other troubled parts of the country.

"The situation in Negros is not an isolated case. Rather, it is a symptom of the alarming culture of impunity and lawless violence that has gripped the country in the past few years. If we don't act urgently and effectively, there will be more deaths and families torn apart in the days to come."

However, Hontiveros said that the killings in Negros must not be used as an excuse to implement repressive policies, such as the imposition of martial law, which will only worsen, and not solve, the problem: "Violence only begets more violence. Harsher policies will only lead to a further breakdown in security and the rule of law."

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