CHR to probe string of shootings that left nine dead this week

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 16) — The Commission on Human Rights will launch independent investigations into the spate of killings across the country this week, including the fatal shooting of a lawyer in Bukidnon.

In a statement on Friday, the CHR condemned the killing of nine people in four separate incidents, noting that the victims were all gunned down in broad daylight by still unidentified assailants. It urged authorities to immediately investigate the crimes.

These include the ambush of Winston Intong, a 53-year-old private lawyer. He was shot at close range by two motorcycle-riding gunmen while buying vegetables a few meters away from his residence in Malaybalay, Bukidnon at around 7:30 a.m. on Thursday.

On the same morning, the bodies of three soldiers and one civilian were found in Lanao del Norte. The Western Mindanao Command said the remains were found after troops responded to a report of a shooting incident in the boundary of Poona Piagapo and Pantao Ragat. The perpetrators remain unknown.

Also on Thursday, police Staff Sergeant Christian Ramos was reportedly gunned down in Cabuyao, Laguna, while two newly freed prisoners, including a former policeman, were fatally shot while onboard a jeepney.

On Monday afternoon, Alex Abe, village chief of Barangay Poblacion, Santa Maria town in Davao Occidental, was killed at his home, the provincial government said.

The CHR said its regional offices will start their own probes into these killings.

“These brazen killings are consequences of the normalized culture of violence and impunity that our society continues to tolerate,” the CHR said. “Pronouncements coming from public officials that encourage and embolden citizens to put justice in their own hands and transgress other people’s basic human rights must be denounced at all levels.”

Local and international human rights groups say President Rodrigo Duterte’s public pronouncements have led to tens of thousands of extrajudicial killings. Official government data shows 5,903 suspects killed in the government’s war on drugs.

Malacañang denied there are state-sanctioned killings, while Duterte said he never asked uniformed personnel to kill “intentionally” – only when their lives are in danger.