Philippines: 9 activists Killed in ‘Bloody Sunday’ on Duterte orders to ‘finish off communist rebels’

It was one of the deadliest days for activists in recent history, set against the backdrop of the Duterte administration's crackdown on the Communist Party of the Philippines and groups linked to it.

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In what is being called “Bloody Sunday”, police and soldiers raided the offices and homes of community organisers in provinces near Manila. They shot dead nine of them – including a married couple – and arrested six as reported by South China Morning post.

It was one of the deadliest days for activists in recent history, set against the backdrop of the Duterte administration’s crackdown on the Communist Party of the Philippines and groups linked to it.

The raids took place two days after Duterte met Philippine security forces in Davao City and urged them to kill communists.

“I’ve told the military and the police, that if they find themselves in an armed encounter with the communist rebels, kill them, make sure you really kill them, and finish them off if they are alive,” Duterte said.

He also ordered them to “forget about human rights,” adding that he is not afraid to go to jail. “That’s not a problem,” he said.

He also addressed the communist rebels directly, calling them “bandits” and saying that they “have no ideology”. He, however, promised jobs, housing, and livelihoods if the rebels give up their arms.

After taking office in 2016, Duterte ordered direct talks with the communists, but following clashes between government forces and rebels in 2017, Duterte called off the peace process and later signed a proclamation labeling the communist fighters as “terrorists”.

In Geneva, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said the body was “appalled by the apparently arbitrary killing of nine activists”, while in Australia, Peter Murphy, chairperson of the global council of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), did not mince his words.

“Duterte’s words lead directly to [the] murder of Filipinos, he’s out for blood,” he said in a Monday statement. “We are calling on the UN, and member states, to publicly condemn the Bloody Sunday killings and arrests.”

This is not the first time the Philippine President has used such harsh rhetoric towards communist rebels.

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In 2018, Duterte made headlines and drew international condemnation among human rights organisations, feminist movements, and social media users after telling his soldiers to shoot female rebels in the genitals to render them “useless”.

In the same year, Duterte announced plans to create a “death squad” to combat communist rebels in the country.

“The only thing missing is my own sparrow unit. That’s their only advantage,” Duterte said back then. “So I will create my own sparrow. Duterte death squad against the sparrow.”

The president was talking about the so-called sparrow units, small assassination squads manned by the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The Communist Party of the Philippines has been waging a guerrilla war against the government of the Philippines for over 50 years since its establishment – this is one of Asia’s oldest insurgencies.

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