MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila de Lima called for a Senate inquiry into killings of farmers in the country, including the deaths of 14 farmers in Negros Oriental police operations last March 30.
De Lima filed Senate Resolution No. 1034, saying there is "an urgent need to investigate this escalating trend and spate of killings victimizing our farmers," and to hold the perpetrators accountable.
The senator on Monday, April 8, cited reports that at least 180 farmers have been killed under the Duterte administration. (READ: Makabayan seeks probe into bloody Negros Oriental police operations)
"These killings tend to prove the inability of the Philippine government to discharge its basic duty to preserve and maintain peace and order, and to hold accountable the perpetrators of crimes and abuses. They have cultivated a culture of impunity and lawlessness across the country," De Lima said.
Police had claimed that the farmers killed in Negros Oriental were suspected New People's Army rebels who resisted arrest as they were being served search warrants. (READ: Negros Oriental police chief, 3 others sacked after killing of 14)
"The recurring narrative of suspects having resisted arrest, otherwise known as nanlaban, has long been serving as a wrongful justification for the targeted and continuous killings around the country," De Lima said, referring to the thousands of deaths linked to President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-drug campaign.
De Lima, one of Duterte's fiercest critics, has been detained since February 2017 on what she calls trumped-up drug charges, allegedly fabricated by the President and his allies.