MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Army officers are blocking the release to relatives of the remains of the activists killed in a series of police operations in Calabarzon last Sunday, right groups Karapatan said in a media advisory issued Wednesday night.
“At the moment, at least 20 soldiers of the Philippine Army led by a certain Capt. Bauya are physically preventing the relatives to claim the bodies of victims of #BloodySunday. A firetruck was parked right at the gate of Antipolo Memorial Homes to prevent anyone/anything from coming in or out of the place,” Karapatan said.
“As of this writing, relatives of victims and paralegals are stranded within the premises of the funeral parlor,” it added.
INQUIRER.net reached out to the Army’s Public Affairs Office in Calabarzon and to Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade, chief of the Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. But both have not replied as of this writing.
Other activist groups said that the bodies of two of the nine slain activists had been retrieved from the funeral parlor. However, four were still inside.
“With heavy police and military presence, we fear that relatives and paralegals may be subjected to harassment and intimidation,” Karapatan said.
The nine activists were killed during simultaneous police operations in the provinces of Rizal, Laguna, and Cavite, with the Philippine National Police (PNP) insisting that the activists fought back.
While PNP claimed that the operations were legitimate as they were conducted with search warrants, several activists condemned them, pointing out that the operations took place just days after President Rodrigo Duterte told law enforcers in a televised briefing to kill communist rebels.
The killings have drawn concern from international groups, including the United Nations; local human rights defenders and lawyers; the Commission on Human Rights; and government officials, including Vice President Leni Robredo and other opposition members.
According to reports, among the people killed in the operations were Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Cavite coordinator Manny Asuncion and fisherfolk rights advocates Ariel and Chai Lemita Evangelista, who were husband and wife.
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