We fear that the most recent killings of Filipino peace and peasant rights activist Randall Echanis and that of human rights and community health worker Zara Alvarez by suspected agents of the Philippine military just a couple of weeks apart are not the last under the undeclared martial law regime of President Rodrigo Duterte. Malaya Movement Canada expresses its gravest concerns and its angry condemnation of the continuing death threats against the human rights defenders in Negros.
KARAPATAN, the Philippine human rights alliance, exposed the latest death threat messages which were received by Karapatan Negros Secretary General Clarissa Singson and John Milton Lozande, Secretary General of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) and Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), soon after the killing of Alvarez in Negros Island.
The text messages received by Singson and Lozande from a “concerned citizen” listed the names who are “subject for liquidation” in Negros which included that of Singson and Lozande and eight others. The message listed rights defenders Rey Alburo,spokesperson of Karapatan-Negros, Felipe Gelle of the September 21 Movement Negros and others named by their aliases “Tatay Ogie” and “Aldrin” reported to be colleagues of Lozande in NSFW. The first name on the list was Zara Alvarez who was shot multiple times while she was walking on the street on her way home.
These are very dangerous times more than ever for Filipino human rights defenders, made particularly so when the recently passed “Terror Law” blurs the distinction between criticism and terrorism and shamelessly violates the basic human rights and freedoms of the people. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet expressed her opposition to the passage of Duterte’s “Terror Law” and saw its “further chilling effect on human rights and humanitarian work, hindering support to vulnerable and marginalized communities.”
Malaya Movement Canada holds President Duterte, his government and the military responsible for these vicious attacks, threats and harassment against human rights defenders. The Filipino people have become ever more determined to fight fascism and state terrorism and prepared to mount more mass actions to demand an end to terrorism against the Filipino people.
Clarizza Singson was a recent visitor this year to Canada and was the guest at the conference of the International Coalition of Human Rights in the Philippines-Canada. She shared the situation of the people under repression in the Philippines, especially the communities in Negros Island, and the people’s resistance. With the population as many as British Columbia but as small as 10 percent of the land mass of Quebec province, agriculture-rich Negros Island remains among the poorest regions in the country. (See IBON paper “Why Negros?” https://www.ibon.org/why-negros/)
Malaya Movement Canada calls on all freedom-loving Filipinos in the diaspora to condemn the latest death threats against Singson, Lozande and all the rights defenders in Negros Island and to exert pressure to stop the attacks against activists in the Philippines. With a resounding call, let’s Defend Negros Island. This is in defence of a people under siege and under attack.
Spokesperson, MALAYA Movement Canada
August 23, 2020