BAYAN YEARENDER | ‘Impunity reigned’ in 2017 but people will demand justice in 2018

December 30, 2017 - 12:36 PM
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Composite image shows the Mandaluyong 'mistaken identity' incident and CCTV footage of policemen dragging Kian delos Santos away before he was killed.

MANILA, Philippines — As 2017 drew close on Saturday, December 30, the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan judged 2017 as a year when “impunity reigned in the Philippines” but gave a more hopeful prognosis for 2018, saying it would be when “the Filipino people demand a decisive end to such gross human rights abuses.”

“Whether it’s the ‘drug war’ or other law enforcement and counter-insurgency operations, 2017 will be remembered for widespread human rights violations,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said in a statement.

Since President Rodigo Duterte assumed office in mid-2016, the “war on drugs” he has ordered waged is estimated to have claimed more than 13,000 lives, while human rights groups say the government’s counterinsurgency campaign has led to the deaths, disappearance, torture, imprisonment and harassment of hundreds of activists and dissenters, and the displacement of thousands of peasants and indigenous people.

Reyes noted that, as the year ends, “we are haunted by the plea of Innocents: ‘Tama na po, may exam pa ako bukas.’ ‘May dala po kaming pasyente’!”

The first quote was what witnesses quoted 17-year old Caloocan resident Kian delos Santos as he was dragged away by policemen moments before he would be shot dead in what authorities claimed was a shootout but subsequent investigations tended to indicate was a coldblooded execution.

The second quote was a plea by one of the passengers of a vehicle bearing construction workers who were rushing a woman wounded in a shooting to a hospital that police fired on in Mandaluyong Thursday night.

The incident left the woman and a construction worker dead and two others in critical condition.

Authorities later said the policemen had been misled into thinking the passengers of the vehicle were the gunmen who shot the woman.

“The long-standing problem of impunity among state security forces has worsened under a regime that thinks little of human rights and accountability and has openly encouraged the commission of violations,” Reyes said.

But, he predicted, “2018 will be a year when the cries for justice for all victims will ring even louder.”