Oplan Kapanatagan replacing civilian agencies with military has been in place. Former military officials have been appointed in many civilian posts; their offices maximised for surveillance, red tagging, and direct attacks against perceived enemies of the state. The most recent example is the Department of Education’s closure of 55 Lumad schools in Mindanao on the basis of “intelligence reports” that the schools have been teaching rebellion to the children.
In Negros, Philippine National Police has vowed to continue Oplan Sauron, the intensified campaign of PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines against “communist insurgency and now President Rodrigo Duterte may declare martial law in Negros Oriental over the spate of killings in the province. At least 14 persons were killed in Negros Oriental since July 23. The spate of killings started after four policemen were ambushed by suspected New People’s Army in Ayungon town last July 18. On he other side at least 20 civilians, mostly farmers, have been killed with extrajudicial procedures in the past months.
For some Human Rights Organization, like what happened in the Oplan Tokhang war against drugs offenders, the PNP wishes the public to regard as normal the butchering of civilians. The victims in all these killings are not just cold statistics. They have left behind wives, children, mothers, and other loved ones.
The United Nations Human Rights Council’s resolution to investigate the killings in the Philippines is a welcome development. The Philippines, as a signatory to various human rights treaties, could not evade responsibility and must be held accountable. The UN investigation is crucial at this time when victims could no longer rely solely on legal remedies, with their lawyers and other human rights defenders also getting killed. More importantly, how could they expect justice when the chief executive is the one issuing the order to kill?