End Impunity

Today and tomorrow, November 28 and November 29, marks the 13th year since church worker Jose ‘Pepe’ Manegdeg III of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) and Albert Terredano of the Abra Human Rights Advocates (AHRA) and Confederation for Unity Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) were extrajudicially killed as per State policy of killing activists under Oplan Bantay Laya.

Both, before they were killed, were politically vilified as ‘enemies of the State’ in different disinformation campaigns patterned after the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ ‘Knowing Your Enemy’ and Trinity of War. Both persisted in their work despite threats to their lives. Pepe, as a missionary, worked and lived with peasants of Ilocos to uplift their conditions as a testament to his faith. Albert Terredano, as a government employee with the Department of Agrarian Reform and a human rights worker, saw to it that the interests of the farmers of Abra were given due attention as he fully embraced the activist commitment to serve the people. Both cases and the more than a thousand killings under the rule of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo have not seen justice. Both are remembered today as President Rodrigo Roa Duterte unleashes words to strike at legitimate political dissent in his order to create a ‘death squad’ against ‘suspected members of the New People’s Army’ (NPA), ‘NPA sparrow units’ and even ‘tambays’.

The death squad that killed Pepe Manegdeg pumped twenty-two bullets into his body. They attacked him on the evening of the 28th along the highway of San Esteban, Ilocos Sur just while he was waiting for a bus to be on his way to be with his wife and family after a human rights training.

The death squad that killed Albert Terredano brazenly shot him in broad daylight along the streets of Bangued, Abra, while he was on his way to work aboard a tricycle. from his home

Why were they silenced? Because the State wanted to send a message to the people who were critical about policies being written and executed by the State. There is no room for dissent.

We condemn this same fascist framework and course of action being replicated and legitimized by the Duterte administration today.

The killings that happen everyday compel all of us to rise above the fear the State intends to create as they try to ram down unjust economic and political policies down our throats.

If we are to remember victims of extrajudicial killings and pay tribute to their sacrifices, we have to work for justice, we must strive to keep human rights violations from happening incessantly, we have to make our voices collectively heard as the number of orphans, and families losing their loved ones grow by the day. State attacks against human rights have to end.