ANDUROG SA DERECHOS. A coalition to stop killings and promote human rights in the Bicol region. Photo by Rhaydz Barcia/Rappler
LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Because of increasing human rights violations and extrajudicial killings in the country, the Diocese of Legazpi led the formation of a multisectoral coalition to promote human rights, stop the killings, and start the healing in the countryside.
Bishop Joel Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi said that the “Andurog sa Derechos (Support to Rights)" is a multi-stakeholder coalition of government agencies, civil society groups, and faith-based organizations in the Bicol region for the promotion of human rights.
Formed ahead of International Human Rights Day celebrated on December 10, the coalition seeks to create a collaborative mechanism among its members to address cases of killings and human rights violations, respond to the needs of victims and their families, and educate the public on the need to uphold and defend human rights.
The Social Action Center of the Diocese of Legazpi led by Fr Rex Paul Arjona, and the Commission on Human Rights regional office led by Arlene Alangco are the lead convenors of the coalition.
Arjona said the coalition seeks to do the following:
Provide assistance to families of victims of killings
Provide a venue for the public to report cases of killings and rights violations
Facilitate immediate action by institutions and concerned government agencies on cases of killings and rights violations
Document and monitor cases involving drug-related killings either by state or non-state actors
Build the capacity of human rights defenders and coalition members to raise public awareness on human rights, illegal drugs, and killings
Arjona said that there was a similar initiative in 2009, at the height of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of leftist activists during the Arroyo administration.
The new coalition formed on Thursday, December 7, includes the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Justice (DOJ), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and non-governmental organizations and people’s organizations here.
“We bring together the legal group, the PNP, NBI, CHR and our own church ministry organization including the civil society groups so that we can work together towards addressing human rights violations and extrajudicial killings,” Baylon said.
He also expressed hope that the multisectoral effort would help victims as well as policemen charged with "unfair accusations."
Superintendent Frande Echaloce, PNP Bicol community relations officer assistant chief, said that from July 1, 2016, to January 31, 2017, 117 drug personalities were killed in anti-illegal drug operations across the Bicol region.
The highest cases of fatalities were reported in Albay province with 32 cases, followed by Camarines Norte with 21, Camarines Sur with 19, Naga City with 9, Sorsogon with 5, Masbate with 2, and Catanduanes with one case. – Rappler.com