Volume III, Number 5. 15 March 2021.

By their own admission, Duterte’s armed security agents broke into numerous private homes in Cavite, Batangas, Laguna and Rizal provinces in the early hours of Sunday, 7 March, arrested six individuals and killed nine persons. We are very familiar with the sordid explanation: police and military agents conducted so-called legitimate armed operations and the armed criminals were killed because they resisted arrest.

At this point however, after more than 20,000 “suspected drug personalities” and hundreds more “communist terrorists” have been killed since the beginning of the Duterte administration, who in the world still believes in this drivel? It’s already known around the world that these police and military agents plant guns, grenades and other weapons on the murder victims to support their false claims. Independent human rights investigators are denied access to case files of these so-called legitimate operations. Countless eyewitnesses, families, friends and colleagues of the victims attest that their loved ones were unarmed and could not resist arrest, let alone could have engaged in a gunfight.

The Filipino people and the international community are appalled by these crimes. They are revolted by the Duterte regime’s callous justifications and whitewashing. The calls for justice for these latest murders are echoing from the victims’ loved ones, from various sections of the Philippine population, and all around the world, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

It has not escaped our attention that Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque was forced to admit that those killed on 7 March were all unarmed, despite the police agents claims to the contrary. That his government commits to investigate, prosecute and punish those who violated the law. Will we then see the swift and effective delivery of justice for these crimes?

So much empty words and false commitments. Calls for justice demand a speedy, thorough and truly independent investigation. It should be independent from the police and military generals who are themselves complicit in the crimes. Identification, arrest, prosecution and commensurate punishment of the criminals. And a stop to the extrajudicial killings and other atrocious human rights violations.

The Filipino people cannot expect to obtain justice under the Duterte regime. To whom can Filipinos turn to for justice?