Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the government of the Philippines to investigate “the use of lethal force” in police raids on Sunday. Nine activists died in the raids, and another six were arrested.
Local activist groups report that the police executed search warrants issued by Jose Lorenzo de la Rosa, the judge who presides over the Metro Manila Branch 4. In executing these warrants, police are reported to have raided the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas and Rizal. Local media outlet Kodao Productions reported that the Philippines National Police are targeting “communist ‘terrorists’ who allegedly illegally possessed guns and explosives” as part of a broader effort to “end the 51-year-old communist insurgency in the country.”
HRW condemned the lethal raids. In a statement, the organization’s Deputy Asia Director, Phil Robertson, said:
The fundamental problem is this campaign no longer makes any distinction between armed rebels and noncombatant activists, labor leaders, and rights defenders. … It is also not a coincidence that these incidents occurred in provinces overseen by the Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, led by Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., who has led a vicious “red-tagging” campaign against activists by accusing them of rebel links without providing any evidence that can stand up in a court of law.
Robertson implored the Philippines’ government to “act now to investigate the use of the lethal force in these raids.”
The lethal raids come two days after President Rodrigo Duterte is reported to have instructed authorities to “kill, kill them all. Finish them. Don’t mind human rights.” Robertson stated that this timing is no coincidence.
Human rights group coalition International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines echoed Robertson’s condemnation of the raids, stating that “the current reality in the Philippines” is “impunity, mass killings and escalating human rights abuses.”
Given that the Philippines ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1986, it has an obligation to protect human rights.