(UPDATED) Five activists were killed and at least three others were arrested as police carried out simultaneous operations in Calabarzon on Sunday, March 7, 2021.
Pamantik KMU, regional labor center in Calabarzon, said in a series of Twitter posts that Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Cavite secretary general Manny Asuncion was killed when police raided the Workers' Assistance Center in Dasmariñas, Cavite at about 4 a.m. Sunday.
Couple Chai Lemita-Evangelista and Ariel Evangelista, staff of farmers’ group Ugnayan ng Mamamayan Laban sa Pagwawasak ng Kalikasan at Kalupaan (Umalpas Ka), who were initially reported as missing, were found dead in John Paul Funeral in Nasugbu, Batangas.
Their 10-year-old son was spared during the raid on their home in Barangay Calayo in Nasugbu.
Two volunteers of urban poor group Sikka-K3, identified by Karapatan as Melvin Dasigao and Mark Lee Coros Bacasno, were also killed during a raid on their office in Montalban, Rizal.
Those arrested were Esteban Mendoza of Olalia-KMU, Elizabeth Camoral of Bayan-Laguna and Nimfa Lanzanas of Kapatid-Southern Tagalog. In an update, Pamantik KMU said Eugene Eugenio of Courage-Rizal was also arrested.
Police served search warrants for illegal possession of firearms against Camoral and Mendoza in their homes in Cabuyao, Laguna, while Lanzanas, 62, was arrested in a raid in Calamba, Laguna.
Pamantik KMU also said police raided the office of Defend Yulo Farmers in Cabuyao, Laguna, and communities in Hacienda Yulo, Calamba, Hacienda Looc in Nasugbu, Batangas, and Sitio Kaunlaran in Montalban.
Kabataan Party-list Representative Sarah Elago noted that the crackdown occurred a day after President Rodrigo Duterte issued a “shoot and kill” order against armed rebels.
“Instead, Duterte administration's counter-insurgency campaign has targeted dissenters, organizations and activists opposing the regime's anti-people policies,” Elago said in a social media post.
Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate described Sunday as Bloodbath Day and condemned the raids.
“We strongly condemn this tokhang modus against members of progressive organizations in Southern Tagalog. This is pure terrorism to brutally silence dissent, pure terrorism to stop making government accountable,” he said in a separate post.
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay urged the Commission on Human Rights to investigate.
“The Commission on Human Rights must investigate these raids and ensure that justice and accountability is served for the victims of state terror and fascism,” Palabay said in a statement.
“We will not be silenced, and we call on all Filipinos to condemn these raids and to stand with us in the struggle for justice and in defending people’s rights,” she added. (Marites Villamor-Ilano / Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo / SunStar Philippines)