The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) strongly condemns the order of Police Regional Office-Cordillera Director Police Brigadier General R’win Pagkalinawan for police snipers to shoot “communist organizers who unnecessarily organize the masses at this time”.
General Pagkalinawan’s order came after President Duterte ordered cops and soldiers to shoot dead the ‘troublemakers’ amid the lockdown. Duterte was reacting to the protest of some residents in Quezon City yesterday who were merely asking for food assistance. Duterte made it appear that the spontaneous protest of hungry people was a destabilization plot by the “left”.
The shoot to kill order is a vague policy that allows law enforcers to commit mass murder against civilians. “Communist”, “organizer”, “unnecessarily organize the masses” are subject to different interpretations. It allows the police and military to just shoot and kill anybody that they would judge to be “communist”.
The shoot to kill order completely disregards due process and simply puts the people’s lives in the hands of the police and military. It is against the call for people’s unity in the fight against COVID-19 because it aims to suppress legitimate dissent.
The shoot to kill order further endangers the lives of members of people’s organizations and non-government organizations that the police and military have been maliciously tagging as communists or communist fronts such as the Cordillera Peoples Alliance.
Indigenous peoples and marginalized sectors are gravely affected by the health and economic crisis brought about by COVID-19 and the lockdown. Demanding food and economic aid that is much needed by these vulnerable populations is now being labeled by the government as communist activities which, in turn, is used to justify violations of human rights committed by the police and military.
We are all on home quarantine and only go out for food and other urgent necessities. The least we can do to express our concerns and grievances, demand for food relief and economic and health support in order to cope with the COVID-19 crisis is through social media. Will this be interpreted as an act of communism and subject people to the shoot to kill order? Why would the National Bureau of Investigation go after citizens who express sentiments on the government’s response to COVID-19 on social media?
After more than two weeks of lockdown, people are protesting to demand food and economic relief to survive. Instead of killing these people, conducting warrantless arrests and detention, and committing extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations, the government should instead focus on addressing the widespread need for food relief and government aid that is resulting in hunger and rising number of COVID-19 cases.
People are already being killed by the COVID-19 virus. With the huge P275 Billion budget and the additional powers granted to the President, the government should be able to decisively provide immediate relief and economic aid to the people, and suppress the spread of the virus.
The Duterte government should also not exploit the current crisis to impose dictatorship and martial rule. The enemy is not the people. The enemy which must be killed is COVID-19. And people must be saved from the virus.
The government and people’s efforts to combat COVID-19 are useless if people are killed by bullets from law enforcers, killed due to hunger brought about by the crisis, and killed from the COVID-19 virus itself. Mass murder will not resolve the crisis brought about by COVID-19.
We urge Police Regional Office-Cordillera Director Police Brigadier General R’win Pagkalinawan to withdraw his shoot to kill order.
We call on the Commission on Human Rights to urge the Philippine National Police and the Duterte government to withdraw the Shoot To Kill order; uphold the Constitution, human rights laws and standards, and international humanitarian law; and ensure the protection of the rights of cilivilans.
We appeal to members of the police and military and their families not to allow themselves to be made pawns to the mass intimidation and violation of human rights and international humanitarian law at this time of crisis.
We call on the people to resist this policy of mass murder and Duterte’s dictatorship.
Together, let us fight for our right to life and for genuine peace and democracy in the country.
Together, let us call on the State to treat this pandemic as a humanitarian and health crisis, to adhere to its unilateral declaration of ceasefire and focus instead in providing the much-needed assistance to the people.