New Zealand Must Condemn the “Bloody Sunday” raids in the Philippines

A statement by the Auckland Philippines Solidarity and Migrante Aotearoa 8 March 2021

Auckland Philippines Solidarity and Migrante Aotearoa condemn the killings of nine activists and arrest of at least four others during raids by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Rizal, Cavite and Batangas yesterday morning – an incident dubbed “Bloody Sunday” by local human rights advocates.

The raids came just two days after President Duterte ordered the PNP and AFP to “make sure you really kill them, and finish them off if they are alive” when dealing with “communists”. In Duterte’s Philippines political activists, trade unionists and peasant organisers are regularly labelled as “communists” and targeted in extrajudicial killings.

Among the dead were: Emmanuel “Manny” Asuncion, the Cavite coordinator of the activist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan); Mark Lee Bacasno and Melvin Dasigao, members of the urban poor group San Isidro Kasiglahan, Kapatiran at Damayan para sa Kabuhayan, Katarungan at Kapayapaan (SIKKAD K-3) and Rodriguez, Rizal; and Ariel Evangelista and his wife, Chai Lemita Evangelista, a couple who advocated for fishermen’s rights.

The Philippine human rights organisation Karapatan stated the Evangelistas’ 10-year-old son, survived the raid by hiding under his bed. It is difficult to imagine the horror he must have felt. Such brutalities have become commonplace during Duterte’s wars on dissent and the so called “war on drugs”.

Auckland Philippines Solidarity and Migrante Aotearoa call on the New Zealand government to condemn these latest raids and call for the release of the arrested activists. Last year at the UN Human Rights Council the New Zealand government rightly expressed its deep concern at human rights abuses in the Philippines. Now is the time for New Zealand to increase this pressure, especially as these latest killings appear to signal the beginning of a new and deeper crackdown on dissent in the Philippines.