Photo grab of the portion of the bridge where two activists spray-painted unfinished words “DUTERTE IBAGSAK” and were allegedly killed by police on the same spot (Photo courtesy by Rappler).
By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has bewailed the reported police killing of two activists who were spray-painting a bridge rail with the words “Duterte Ibagsak!” in Guinobatan town in Albay just hours before Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 26.
De Lima said she is alarmed at how authorities are again using the oft-repeated “nanlaban” alibi as a reason to defend the killings of Jemar Palero of the Organisasyon ng mga Magsasaka sa Albay and Marlon Naperi of the Albay People’s Organization.
“Hours before the SONA, Duterte’s policemen were killing 2 activists on a bridge in Guinobatan, Albay. Ilang beses na akong nagpapahayag ng aking pagkabahala sa sunod-sunod na pagpatay nitong mga nakaraang buwan sa Bicol pero itong pinakabagong insidente ay gumulantang nang husto sa akin,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1110.
“They were spray-painting ‘Duterte Ibagsak’ when they were gunned down. The image of the unfinished slogan on the wall and their blood on the concrete will hit you to the core,” she added.
Defend Bicol reportedly said the two activists were writing a protest slogan on Banao Bridge as part of their Operation Pinta when the cops rained bullets on them.
The activists were only able to write “DUTERTE IBAGS” instead of “DUTERTE IBAGSAK” before they were killed by police who claimed that the two men fired shots at the roving police patrol, forcing cops to fight back – a narrative which the rights group Karapatan refuted.
De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, said serious investigation about the incident is necessary to ensure justice for the victims and their families.
“I join the call for an urgent and impartial investigation on this latest case of ‘nanlaban’ killing in the Bicol region. Halos magkakasunod. Lahat nanlaban daw. And this time, the victims were not gunned down in a staged raid.”
“They were killed while actually expressing their discontent against the President who, hours after their death, was saying in his SONA that he loves the Bicolanos. Oh!?”, the Bicolana senator stated.
Palero and Naperi’s deaths are the most recent recorded killings of activists in the country. According to Karapatan, there are at least 414 activist victims of extrajudicial killings since Duterte assumed presidency in July 2016. (ai/mtvn)