By Sandugo Muro Katutubo
WE ARE alarmed and outraged at the spate of killings in Negros. In a span of two days, nine farmers, activists, and human rights defenders have been killed. No one is safe: among those killed are a lawyer, school principal, a barangay captain, a councilor, a former mayor, a toddler.
The air strikes in Maguindanao, which killed an elderly woman and wounded a child, are no different from the cold-blooded assassinations in Negros. Duterte unleashes his harshest attacks against the most marginalized: farmers, workers and national minorities. He tortures these sectors through policies like rice tarrification, the junking of the Security of Tenure bill, or development aggression in ancestral lands. He sends troops and vigilantes or paramilitaries to target leaders and communities, spreading terror and death in order to quell any form of dissent. He and his allies’ outrageous antics divert national attention away from this bloodbath, a twin strategy of aggression and distraction.
There is a bloody and systemic drive behind all this. The regime’s trail of blood, destruction and displacement all points to a concerted effort, from Martial Law in Mindanao to Oplan Sauron in Negros, to similar emerging campaigns in Bicol and Eastern Visayas. Sandugo calls for an independent investigation on the spate of killings in Negros and hold those perpetrators accountable--from the hacienderos, to their private armies, to the Philippine Army until it reaches to the Commander-in-Chief.