Assistant Minority Leader and Gabriela Women’s party-list Rep. Liza Maza and a ranking member of the influential Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday condemned the worsening extra-judicial killing in Souther tagalong and Davao lambasting the Arroyo administration for practically doing nothing to stop the killing spree.
In a statement, Maza condemned the latest killings in Southern Tagalog which claimed the lives of of Sabina “Ka Sabeng” Ariola, a woman leader from Sta. Rosa City, Laguna and the attempted murder of Adelaida Calosa.
“The culture of brutality and impunity perpetuated by the Arroyo administration has once again preyed upon the women leaders of Southern Tagalog with the killing of Sabina Ariola and the attempt on Adelaida Calosa’s life yesterday. Legitimate protests of people’s organizations against anti-poor and anti-people policies are being quelled and neutralized through extra-judicial killings and other human rights violations. An independent investigation should be conducted to bring the perpetrators to justice and legislative measures to stop the killings and protect the rights of the people must immediately be enacted,” Maza said.
The 51-year-old woman leader was approached and shot by still unidentified men during their protest action last March 23. The same bullet that went through Ariola’s stomach hit a fellow member Adelaida Calosa. Ariola died the following day while Calosa is scheduled for operation as the bullet lodged in her neck.
Ariola’s group was on board an elf heading to Sta. Rosa City Hall as they were to attend the session and lobby the annual budget for 2009 of the Sangguniang Bayan. Ariola’s group was regularly conducting their series of protest action every Monday.
According to the Gabriela solon, Sabina Ariola is the 978th victim of extra-judicial killings under the Arroyo administration since 2001.
In Davao City, Archbishop Fernando Capalla of the Archdiocese of Davao, issued a two-page Pastoral Letter (prayer) condemning the killings in the province at the same time asking for the “forgiveness of their sins (killers) and prayers for the soul of the victims this coming Lenten season.”
The people of Davao were urged to utter the said pastoral letter-prayer “kneeling down after Holy Communion.”
Capalla also criticized the City government of Davao “for allowing these extra-judicial killings happen and without moving a finger to solve these killings.”
Reports have attributed the killings the Davao Death Squad.
Recently, the European Parliament has urged the Philippine government to strengthen the investigation and prosecution of extra-judicial killings in the country.
In 2006, the bishops of Davao Region made a stand against extra-judicial killings through the DADITAMA (Davao-Digos-Tagum-Mati) by stressing the need for social consciousness to uphold the sacredness of a man’s life. The DADITAMA meeting is a quarterly meeting of the four dioceses designed to foster better and stronger relation among the members of the sub-region, tackle and share insights on important concerns, and help in coming out with solutions to the concerns and problems.
In the statistics of the Commission on Human Rights, it states that from 2001 to 2008, there were 611 incidents of extra-judicial killings/political killings that occurred. In the Davao Region alone, there were 119 incidents of extra-judicial killings recorded. –Charlie V. Manalo, Daily Tribune