The Catholic bishops’ social action and justice arm demanded an investigation into the simultaneous crackdowns of activists in four provinces near Manila on Sunday that left nine dead.
The National Secretariat for Social Action – Justice and Peace (Nassa) called on authorities to get to the bottom of the killings “impacted by red-tagging incidents”.
“We denounce the unnecessary use of force and violence in the government’s quest for peace which only victimizes the poor and the vulnerable,” said Nassa chairman Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo.
This happened just two days after President Rodrigo Duterte told security forces to “kill” and “finish off” armed communist rebels in encounters — and “don’t mind human rights”.
Authorities also arrested six others believed to be activists in Laguna, Rizal and Batangas provinces.
On the other hand, he urged Duterte to ensure that the individual rights of Filipinos are respected and protected in the government’s campaign against insurgency.
“We appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte to choose rule of law over militarization in solving the country’s insurgency and terrorism problems,” Bagaforo said.
“We vow, as a Church, always to protect the sanctity of life of everyone, and defend the rights of the poor and the vulnerable,” he added.