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Senators seek probe into spate of EJKs in PH

Several senators are pushing for a Senate probe into the alleged spate of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the country, following the deaths of a medical professional and her husband in Central Visayas.

Mary Rose Sancelan, a doctor by profession, and her husband Edwin were shot dead in Brgy. Poblacion in Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental on Dec. 15. Before she was killed, Ms. Sancelan served as the head of the government’s anti-coronavirus task force in the city.

Human rights group Kaparatan earlier reported that Ms. Sancelan was included in a supposed anti-communist hit-list.

Senate Resolution No. 599, filed by Senator Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel, mandates appropriate committees in the upper chamber to investigate the vigilante killings “with the end view of attaining justice for the slain victims.”

The resolution, which also aims to restore law and order in the country, was co-signed by Senators Frank M. Drilon, Ralph G. Recto, Richard J. Gordon, Nancy S. Binay, Joel J. Villanueva, Francis N. Pangilinan, and Leila M. de Lima.

Ms. Hontiveros-Baraquel said the two latest victims of EJKs in the country are only few of the casualties of “a failing and senseless red-tagging campaign hellbent on crippling democracy.”

“I am alarmed that this anti-communist agenda reigned over the literal health and survival of the Filipino people,” she said in a statement Friday.

In the resolution, senators also cited other unlawful killings that occurred this year, including the murder of lawyer Jovencio Senados, who was killed on his way to work as Manila City Prosecutor’s Office’s Division Chief; the murder of peasant leader and activist Randall Echanis, who was gruesomely tortured before being killed; the murder of former Education Director of Karapatan Zara Alvarez; and the murder of elderly couple and former peace consultants Agaton Topacio and Eugenia Magpantay, among many others.

“The killings that occurred in the latter half of the year have set a disturbing trend of unidentified gunmen killing lawyers, doctors, journalists, and activists in broad daylight, without fear of arrest or apprehension. The increasing brazenness shows that the law enforcement authorities have lost control of the country’s peace and order,” Ms. Hontiveros-Baraquel said.

Senators urged the country’s law enforcement to work tirelessly, endlessly, properly, and lawfully to catch the assailants and to prevent more unlawful and vigilante killings from happening.

Data from Karapatan showed that at least 188 human rights defenders have been killed under the Duterte administration, while 426 activists and community organizers have already been arrested. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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