LEGAZPI CITY: The Diocese of Legazpi has formed the “Andurog sa Derechos,” a multi-sectoral coalition to promote human rights, stop extrajudical killings and start the healing process in the countryside.
Bishop Joel Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi said Andurog sa Derechos (Support to Rights) was organized to create a collaborative mechanism among its members to respond to the needs of victims and their families and educate the public on the need to uphold and defend human rights.
The coalition’s lead convenors are Fr. Rex Paul Arjona, executive director of the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Legazpi, and Arlene Alangco of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) regional office.
It includes representatives from the Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Justice, National Bureau of Investigation, non-government organizations and people’s organizations here.
Arjona said Andurog sa Derechos will provide assistance to victims and their families, receive reports on killings and rights violations, follow up cases with concerned government agencies, document and monitor cases involving drug-related killings either by state or non-state actors, build the capacity of human rights defenders and members of Andurog sa Derechos and raise public awareness on these issues.
In 2009, he added, a similar initiative was formed at the height of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of leftist activists.
The coalition conducted awareness campaigns, assisted in the filing of a least three cases, protected witnesses and implemented a protocol for quick response of coalition members in cases of extrajudicial killings and human rights violations.
Baylon said the coalition will work together in addressing human rights issues and extrajudicial killings to bring peace and to help the poor and the voiceless as well as government forces and PNP members subjected to unfair accusations.
Supt. Frande Echaloce, PNP Bicol community relations officer, said from July 1, 2016 to January 31, 2017, 117 drug suspects were killed in anti-illegal drug operations across the region.
The highest number of fatalities was reported in Albay province with 32 cases followed by Camarines Norte with 21; Camarines Sur, 19; Naga City, 9; Sorsogon, 5; Masbate, 2; and Catanduanes, one.