Statement of the Commission on Human Rights condemning the series of attacks against barangay officials

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights condemning the series of attacks against barangay officials

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is alarmed by the series of reported attacks against barangay officials. At least seven incidents of alleged ambushes, with 11 people killed, eight of which are barangay officials, have already been recorded as of this writing.

On 08 February 2024, Roberto Carpio, a councilor in Nueva Ecija, was allegedly targeted by two gunmen while he was driving his motorcycle in Brgy. Sto. Cristo in his town, according to reports. He was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

The incident was followed by Lawrence Angco, who died after being gunned down by an alleged lone suspect on 19 February 2024. He was reported to be hit with at least nine gunshots. Angco was the barangay chairman of Brgy. Poblacion, Santo Domingo in Magsingal, Ilocos Sur.

Patricio Laude, chairman of Barangay Catmon in Ormoc City Leyte, was shot dead near the house of kagawad Christopher Masimong, who was wounded in the attack on 16 February 2024.

Meanwhile, Nollie Ramos, a barangay official from Brgy. Santa Ines in San Miguel, Bulacan, survived after sustaining eight gunshot wounds on his head and body. The suspects were allegedly reported to be a riding-in-tandem.

Furthermore, Rolando Palacio, kagawad of Barangay Sta. Rosa in Tabango town Leyte, was shot dead in nearby Barangay Tugas on 21 February 2024.

In San Isidro, Leyte, four unidentified men barged into a village hall and shot dead five people, including the barangay chairman, on 24 February 2024. Barangay chairman Elizalde Tabon, watchman Rusty Salazar, and councilman Paulo Al Mindero died at the scene of the incident that occurred in Barangay Daja Diot. Two others, whose identities were not immediately available, died in a hospital. Police said the victims were finalizing the list of beneficiaries of educational assistance when the suspects arrived on two motorcycles.

In the most recent case, Franklyn Tan, chairman of Barangay Seaside in Zamboanga City, died from three gunshot wounds in the body on 25 February 2024.

As of writing, authorities are still investigating if the motive behind these aforementioned incidents are politically motivated.

The Commission strongly condemns the ongoing series of attacks on barangay officials, which directly violate the most fundamental right, the right to life itself. These violent acts not only undermine the integrity of local governments, but also endanger the safety and well-being of community leaders who work hard to serve their constituents.

We call for a thorough and impartial investigation into each of these cruel attacks, with the perpetrators promptly identified and prosecuted in accordance with the law.

Furthermore, the Commission urges authorities to take proactive steps to improve the security and safety of the whole community. Strengthening mechanisms for preventing and responding to violence against barangay officials is critical to protecting their rights and allowing them to carry out their responsibilities without fear.

Alternately, we recognise the efforts of the Philippine National Police (PNP) for their swift response in investigating the said alleged attacks against barangay officials. As an integral part of our mandate and vigilance in the protection and promotion of the rights of every Filipino, CHR is ready to extend its efforts to aid in the investigation of these cases towards ensuring accountability for the perpetrators.

The Commission emphasises that the continued occurrence of violence against officials evidently impacts the safe environment within communities and may affect the decisions of voters on the next elections. Just as we promote and support good governance, CHR also highlights the need to protect the Filipinos’ right to freely take part in electoral processes by voting for their candidates, rather than allowing their ballots to be influenced by these incidents and therefore diminishing the quality of democracy we all commit to preserve.###