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Nationwide round-up (03/07/21)

House leaders vow to act fast on amnesty resolutions for former rebels

LEADERS of the House of Representatives have filed a resolution calling for swift congressional action on granting amnesty to former rebels. In a statement Sunday, House Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said he, along with House Minority Leader Joseph Stephen S. Paduano, and House Speaker Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco filed House Concurrent Resolutions 12, 13, 14, and 15 that called for an immediate review and decision on the proposed amnesty coverage for specific members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro National Liberation Front, Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade, and the Communist Terrorist Group that includes the New People’s Army. “We commit that the House of Representatives, under the leadership of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, will work towards the timely adoption of these amnesty resolutions in line with the government’s peace program,” Mr. Romualdez said. President Rodrigo R. Duterte issued Proclamation Nos. 1090, 1091, 1092, and 1093 in early February, which grant amnesty to members of the rebel groups who committed crimes punishable under the Revised Penal Code and special penal laws in line with their political beliefs. A list of those who will be covered by the amnesty program are subject to congressional concurrence. An Amnesty Commission will be formed to handle the final review of the amnesty applications. — Gillian M. Cortez

Human Rights Watch calls for probe on Sunday’s raids in PHL

INTERNATIONAL GROUP Human Rights Watch on Sunday called on the Philippine government to investigate the simultaneous raids conducted by police in several areas where five members of left-leaning legal organizations were killed and several others arrested. The group said the string of police raids conducted in the neighboring provinces of Laguna, Rizal, Batangas and Cavite are “clearly part of the government’s increasingly brutal counter-insurgency campaign aimed at eliminating the 52-year-old Communist insurgency.” Human Rights Watch Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson, said in a statement, “It is not a coincidence that these deadly raids happened two days after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered police and military to ‘kill all’ communists and ‘don’t mind human rights’.” He also said, “The fundamental problem is this campaign no longer makes any distinction between armed rebels and noncombatant activists, labor leaders, and rights defenders.” Local group Kapatid, composed of family and friends of political prisoners, confirmed the killing of Manny Asuncion, Bayan-Cavite coordinator; Michael Dasigao and Mark “Makmak” Lee Corros Bacasno, urban poor leaders in Montalban; and Chai Lemita-Evangelista and Ariel Evangelista, fisherfolk leaders in Nasugbu, Batangas. Those arrested were Nimfa Lanzanas, a human rights worker; Steve Mendoza, executive vice-president of Olalia-KMU and former union head at F-Tech; and Elizabeth Camoral, spokesperson of Bayan-Laguna, according to Kapatid. Human Rights Watch noted that the raids occurred in provinces overseen by Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr., who has been known for tagging groups and individuals as communist members or supporters without legal evidence. At least 188 human rights defenders have been killed under the Duterte administration while 426 activists and community organizers were arrested, according to Karapatan, an alliance of human rights groups in the Philippines. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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