The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) condemns the killings of barangay chief Mario Tundag and his wife in Asturias, Cebu, and barangay chairperson Hadji Basit Zangkala in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao del Sur.
Upon cognisance of these attacks, CHR, through its offices in Regions X and XII, launched its independent motu proprio investigations. The Commission also notes that in both incidents, perpetrators used the same method of killing—two assailants riding a motorcycle gunned down the victims to death.
Although police authorities have yet to determine if these incidents were related or politically motivated, the Commission stresses that, regardless of reason, such acts of violence undermines social order and the rule of law. Amid the upcoming conduct of barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in October 2023, CHR echoes Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Chairman George Garcia’s warning against aspiring candidates resorting to violence.
Alongside COMELEC’s initiative to pursue legal remedies against those who commit these attacks, specifically by barring them from seeking elective posts, CHR calls on the government to take necessary measures to hasten investigations and hold accountable perpetrators.
The Commission underscores the serious consequences of these repeated incidents and its lasting effects on Filipino citizens. Not only does this affect the safety of communities at present time, it also has possible subsequent ramifications on the results of the upcoming elections. CHR emphasises that free, fair, and non-violent elections are essential components of democratic societies. Violence that may be related to politics threatens the credibility and legitimacy of electoral processes. The climate of fear and intimidation can likewise deter citizens from exercising their right to participation altogether.
As the country’s independent national human rights institution, CHR urges all duty bearers to prevent violence and promote peaceful platforms and constructive dialogue to address grievances or issues. We reiterate that a just society is where respect for the dignity and human rights of all prevails. ###