The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives has sought a congressional investigation into the reported plan of Cordillera officials to conduct tokhang-like operations against left-leaning individuals.
In filing House Resolution No. 1607, the group also condemned the issuance of the Cordillera Regional Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee Resolution 4, which it said could open the floodgates for another wave of widespread rights violations and extrajudicial killings, this time against activists and critics.
“Even before the resolution, activists have been subjected to intense vilification, illegal detention, and even extrajudicial killings,” the resolution read.
“The implementation of the already controversial and notorious Oplan Tokhang to ‘dissuade’ activists and dissenters from airing otherwise legitimate concerns poses a threat to the country’s democracy.”
The Makabayan bloc is composed of Reps. Carlos Isagani Zarate, Eufemia Cullamat and Ferdinand Gaite of Bayan Muna; Arlene Brosas of Gabriela; Sarah Elago of Kabataan and France Castro of ACT Teachers.
In the resolution, the regional authority said “tokhang” (knock and plead) will be used “to convince left-leaning personalities to return to the folds of the government and dissuade them from further supporting the Marxist-Maoist inspired rebellion and its known front organizations.”
The bloc’s members said activists in the Cordillera region have been subjected to trumped-up charges, harassment, and threats to their life by state armed forces.
“Activists have also been red tagged by officials, and this often lays the ground for further rights violations such as illegal detention and even extrajudicial killings,” the group said.
Citing data from rights group Karapatan, lawmakers said there have been 328 victims of EJKs and 463 victims of frustrated EJKs under the Duterte administration as of August 2020.