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Filipino rights abuse victims launch anti-killing crusade

'Stop the Killings' campaign unites families of political and drug-related slayings in call for justice.

A human rights activist holds a candle during a protest in March to dramatize calls for a stop to killings in the Philippines. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

Families of victims of political- and drug-related killings in the Philippines launched on May 18 a "Stop the Killings" campaign and appealed to the government for "the truest sense of justice."

"With renewed strength and courage, we urge the government to put a stop to the killings in the Philippines," read a statement issued by the group.

Nurhidaya Hassan, wife of a slain human rights activist in Basilan province, said her husband was "one who defended the rights of the poor and marginalized."

"He was a human rights defender. Why should he become a victim himself?" said Nurhidaya.

Nurhidaya's husband was killed on March 8 in an alleged raid against suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf terror group in Basilan.

Rights group Hustisya called on President Rodrigo Duterte to give justice to at least 55 victims of political killings under his administration.

Duterte came to power in June last year.

According to human rights group Karapatan, from July 2016 to April 30, 2017, at least 55 innocent people were killed "as a result of government counter insurgency measures.

"We strongly condemn these blatant violations, as we demand the immediate prosecution and arrest of soldiers and officials involved," said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary-general.

She said that with the "climate of impunity" made worse by drug-related killings, "it is important that all sectors and individuals who uphold civil liberties and people’s rights come together."

Evangeline Hernandez, chairwoman of Hustisya, said continuing attacks on political activists and the drug-related killings in the country "are both done with impunity."

"It violates the rights of the people to due process and most especially their right to life," she said.

Hernandez said that because the proliferation of illegal drugs is a "grave socio-economic problem," it should be addressed by "effecting genuine socio-economic reforms [and] by ensuring that human rights and human dignity are given importance."

In a statement, Hustisya called on Filipinos to support the call to stop the killings and join in "putting an end to impunity."

Hernandez said a big protest rally would take place in Manila on June 12, Independence Day, to urge Duterte "to stay true to his promises of change."

"Let us be one in the call and journey for justice of the relatives of victims," said Palabay, one of the convenors of the protest rally.

Source: UCAN

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