This afternoon at five pm, I attended the meeting of the Council of Leaders of the Coalition Against Summary Execution (CASE). Among them were two lawyers who are also heads of the IBP (Integrated Bar of the Philippines) and the FLAG (Free Legal Assistance Group). There were also those coming from NGOs.
We discussed the latest communication from the office of Mr. Allston, the UN rapporteur, who conducted an investigation of the extra-judicial killings in the Philippines. We were asked whether the recommendations made by Allston were acted on by the government, especially those pertaining to the death squads.
We all agreed that the situation has worsened. Last year, there were 269 victims of the DDS. It seems that during the first three weeks of this month, 29 people were killed by the Davao Death Squad (DDS). Yesterday, two dead bodies were found somewhere in Maa. There is no public outcry against these killings. Many think that these are justified. After all, the victims were suspected petty criminals - juvenile delinquents, addicts, drug-pushers, thieves. They were just meted the death penalty by those who have become judge, jury, executioner. What is even alarming is that this type of killing is expanding to other cities in the country.
We have kept on denouncing these killings over the years and it seems that we have failed to stop them. We have been reduced to counting the victims of the DDS. What is more frustrating is that the government, both national and local, have not done anything to investigate these killings. It makes us wonder if they are being tolerated, sanctioned or even inspired by the powers that be. After all, a top local government executive was quoted in the newspapers as saying: the death penalty was never been lifted in Davao.
All we can do is to keep on raising our voices against these killings. I guess, this is another manifestation of the culture of death the pervades in our land. I hope that someday, those responsible for these killings will face God's judgment - in this life or the next.