Youth and student groups led by Anakbayan held protest actions in various schools and sites last August 11, 2016 as part of a nationwide “Day of Action” against the spate of extrajudicial killings in relation to the Duterte regime’s anti-drugs drive and counterinsurgency war as well as the menace of Martial Law.
“Youths, students, teachers, and ordinary Filipinos are taking a stand against extrajudicial killings and the looming threat of Martial Law. While we laud efforts to crackdown on drugs, this can never be accomplished with indiscriminate killings and repression,” said Anakbayan National Chairperson Vencer Crisostomo.
In Metro Manila, hundreds of students held pickets and candle lightings at the University of the Philippines Diliman Palma Hall, University of the Philippines Manila Oblation Statue, Polytechnic University of the Philippines Main Gate in Sta. Mesa, Manila and the University of Sto. Tomas Main Gate in España, Manila.
The students bore cardboard placards with the slogans “Stop the killings!”, “Stop Lumad Killings!”, “Justice for victims of extrajudicial killings!”, and “Never again to Martial Law!”.
A pregnant Lumad woman was killed while seven others were wounded when paramilitary troops opened fire on a wedding in Bukidnon last July 30. Meanwhile, the Airforce have conducted bombing raids as the Army imposed food blockades in Maragusan, New Bataan, and Monkayo — all in Compostela Valley, Mindanao — this week.
“Human rights have been sacrificed in the conduct of the anti-drug drive, with those holding the gun assuming the roles of both accusers and executioners. We need respect for the right to life and due process. It is impossible to ascertain innocence or guilt if the accused are simply shot on the spot,” said Crisostomo.
Anakbayan condemned the double standard in the treatment of suspected petty criminals who are shot in plain sight, while drug lords and protectors with wealth and influence are exempted from the blood bath and given lenient deadlines by the police for their surrender.
The group also questioned Duterte’s promise of pardoning and promoting law enforcers in legal trouble, saying this will only encourage killings, abuse, and a culture of impunity.
“The Duterte regime’s war on drugs is bound to fail if it continues to rely on extrajudicial killings led by a corrupt and abusive police and military hierarchy. The illegal drug trade is a symptom of deeper social problems like rising poverty, joblessness, and extreme hunger which cannot be wiped out by bullets alone,” said Crisostomo.
Anakbayan said the only way to rid the country of illegal drugs is by pushing deeper social change that involves genuine land reform, national industrialization, meaningful wage increases, scrapping of contractualization, and the provision of accessible education, healthcare, and other social services, among others.