Saturday, March 11, 2006

Bayan Muna leader in Bulacan 26th victim of summary execution in more than two months

Bayan Muna leader in Bulacan 26th victim of summary execution in more than two months

*Rights group says GMA government's Oplan Bantay Laya behind murder of activists***

The human rights group KARAPATAN has condemned the killing of Bayan Muna leader Santi Teodoro in Bulacan yesterday, March 9.

Teodoro is the 26th victim of summary execution recorded by KARAPATAN this year, 12 of which occurred in Central Luzon alone.

"The murder of civilians by suspected government agents continue unabated to this day under this illegitimate government's *Operation Bantay Laya*, which target ordinary civilians belonging to open, legal, democratic organizations," said Ruth Cervantes, KARAPATAN Public Information Officer.

She said that the unabated, extra-judicial killing of activists, priests, lawyers, journalists, peasant leaders and trade unionists is antithesis to GMA's propaganda of upholding the rule of law to curb violence. "The truth is, government is using armed, lethal force against peace-loving citizens who speak the truth and want change," she stressed.

"The prevailing policy under the GMA government, similar to that of martial law, is that anyone who opposes the present system is a communist or a communist sympathizer and should be denied his or her legal rights," Cervantes alleged.

The human rights alliance said that under the government's *Oplan Bantay Laya*, state security forces use violence not as a last resort but as its first and continuous response to legitimate political dissent.

"Lawless violence is being committed by the state against its citizens: protest actions are peaceful until police break them with truncheons, legal organizations and its members are targets of witch-hunts and campaigns of incitement to violence until they are arbitrarily deprived of life or made to disappear without a trace," Cervantes said.

"We appeal to the patriotic segment of the Armed Forces of the Philippinesto abort this Oplan Bantay Laya and uphold human rights. We call on government officials to live up to the commitment made by the Philippine government to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other human rights instruments," Cervantes said.

"Lastly, we call on our people to unite and send a message to this government that we will not tolerate the violations of the right to life, freedom and civil liberties of our people," concluded Cervantes.

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