By Charissa Luci-Atienza
Lawmakers have crossed partylines to seek a congressional probe on the spate of killings in the islands of Negros, and urge the authorities to work towards the immediate delivery of justice for the victims.
Negros Oriental Rep. Jocelyn Limkaichong led the filing of House Resolution 154, lamenting the “grave” impact of attacks and indiscriminate killings on the peace and order situation in the island of Negros.
“The attacks and indiscriminate killings have gravely affected the peace and order in the island of Negros and have left the residents in constant fear for their lives, ” she said.
She lamented that the number of fatalities in Negros Oriental has gone up to 20 since July 18 when four police officers were allegedly killed by members of the New People’s Army’s Mt. Cansermon Command.
“Most of the victims were under the suspicion of supporting the NPA. The death toll was a result of separate attacks from a riding-in-tandem and from shootings by armed men who forced their way into the homes of their victims,” she noted.
On July 23, human rights lawyer Anthony Trinidad was shot dead in broad daylight in Guihulngan City on July 23 by riding-in-tandem gunmen. After four days, Canlaon City councilor and businessman Bobby Jalandoni was gunned down by unidentified men who forcibly entered his house.
Minutes later, Ernesto Posadas, a 71-year old village chief of Panubigan in Canlaon City, was also shot dead in his home, and only a few hours after the death of Jalandoni and Posadas, former Ayungan Mayor Edsel Enardecido and his cousin, Leo were killed inside their house in Barangay Tampocon by unidentified gunmen, Limkaichong noted.
“The alarming death toll in a short period emphasizes the urgency to conduct deeper and more through investigation into the killings,” read House Resolution 154.
Under the resolution, 23 House members asked the House Committees on Public Order and Safety; Justice, and Visayas Development to step in, and look into the killings and “compel all the concerned authorities to put an end to the attacks and to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
They even warned that the government’s failure to identify and punish the perpetrators could breed a culture of impunity and violence.
“The series of attacks threaten to undermine the country’s peace and order situation,” they said.
“It is incumbent upon the members of Congress to heed the demands of the people for a just and lasting peace based on the rule of law. The Congress, therefore, should also immediately demand accountability on the part of the law enforcement authorities who are involved in the killings,” they said.
Joining Limkaichong in filing HR 154 were Negros Oriental Rep. Manuel Sagarbarria; Negros Occidental Reps. Gerardo Valmayor Jr., Leo Rafael Cueva, Jose Francisco Benitez and Juliet Marie De Leon Ferrer; Bacolod Rep. Greg Gasataya, Northern Samar Rep. Jose Ong Jr., Cavite Rep. Francis Gerald Abaya, Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice, Zamboanga del Norte Rep. Isagani Amatong, Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman, Quezon City Rep. Jose Christopher Belmonte, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Marikina City Rep. Stella Quimbo, Camarines Sur Rep. Gabriel Bordado Jr., Bohol Rep. Edgar Chatto, Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato, Northern Samar Rep. Paul Daza, Cebu City Rep. Raul Del Mar, and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Alfonso Umali Jr.
The Makabayan bloc also filed a similar resolution seeking a probe on the Negros killings. It even called for the suspension of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Memorandum Order No. 32 ordering the deployment of police and military forces to Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and the Bicol region.