(A Joint Statement Calling for an End to Summary Killings)

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM), and the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) jointly express their alarm and condemnation over the rise in extrajudicial and summary killings that has gripped Davao City and the nearby areas in the past few months.

Almost every day, we read and hear news of lives being taken away by death squads – some in broad daylight along busy streets while others in the privacy of homes. Some of these senseless killings also happened in full view of witnesses, while others took place close to PNP posts or roving teams of the Task Force Davao.

In the past, a youth, a driver, or a vendor has been shot. Recently, a farmer activist, a journalist, or small traders have fallen victims. Who will be next?

Alleged youth offenders were felled in front of their mothers. Parents are being murdered in full view of their children. These killings are gripping the residents of Davao City in fear.

We must not wait for the next victim to fall!

Extrajudicial killings, vigilantism and roving death squads are anathema in a society that upholds the rule of law and democracy.

Sadly though, extrajudicial or summary killings, whether political or non-political, are on a rampage in Davao City and in other parts of Southern Mindanao. The brazenness by which these killings were perpetrated only manifests a clear breakdown of law and order, as the perpetrators – the so-called death squads – seem to pride themselves as being beyond the reach of the law. Day by day these murderous motorcycle-riding assassins are becoming bolder and bolder!

Investigations into these cases have been running slow, if not totally nil, to the utter dismay of the victims’ families and the public. To date, despite the obvious trends and patterns that criminal investigations can deduce from given the daily occurrence of these killings, we have yet to see a single credible arrest and prosecution of the real perpetrators.

To silence dissenting public opinion is a trademark of fascism. To summarily execute alleged petty criminals as part of a campaign towards ‘crime suppression’ in many cities in the country bespeaks of a Gestapo State. That these are all happening despite of (or shall we say because of?) the tremendous amounts of intelligence, equipment, and training budgets that have been infused to the local police and the Task Force Davao, is very atrocious, to say the least.

In a broader sense, the breakdown of law and order and the wanton disrespect for human rights manifests the moral bankruptcy of the government for tacitly allowing this culture of impunity to pervade our society. The public is not only questioning the State for doing nothing, but even so for doing less. There is just one too many unsolved killings and justice lies dead among the many corpses that litter our streets and our consciousness almost every day.

These senseless and barbaric killings must end. As members of the legal profession, WE in the IBP, UPLM and FLAG demand for the government to address this issue squarely and decisively!

We further call on the local authorities to exert serious, credible, decisive, and resolute efforts in putting an end to these senseless killings and bringing to justice its perpetrators.

Finally, we urge all sectors of the Davao society to speak out against these killings and exert our collective pressure on local and national authorities to STOP THE KILLINGS NOW !!

For reference:

(Sgd.) Atty. Ramon Edison C. Batacan

Governor, IBP-Eastern Mindanao Region

(Sgd.) Atty. Manuel P. Quibod

President, IBP-Davao City Chapter

(Sgd.) Atty. Eduardo D. Estores

Chairperson, UPLM-Davao City

(Sgd.) Atty. Carlos Isagani T. Zarate

Coordinator, FLAG-Davao City

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