TAGUM CITY- Human rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao condemned the three recent cases of extra-judicial killings in the region, happening in a span of a week.
Alejandro Laya-og, 36 years old, a motorcycle driver from Maragusan, was gunned down last Sunday, February 7, 2016, at around 6pm. Laya-og was at the terminal in Brgy. Poblacion, Municipality of Maragusan, Compostela Valley Province, when an unidentified armed man shot him once in the back. The man then turned him over, fired one more time, hitting him in the head.
Laya-og was a member of the Kahugpungan sa Mag-uuma sa Magcagong (KAMAMA, Organization of Farmers in Magcagong), a farmer’s group criticizing the militarization in Maragusan and promoting farmers’ welfare. Laya-og also helped in the construction of lumad community school, Salugpongan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center (STTICLC) in the area as requested by their local organization.
According to Laya-og’s wife, her husband already mentioned that men from the 25th IB had summoned him before and accused him as supporter of New People’s Army (NPA). Her husband mentioned three days before he was killed that he was being followed by suspicious looking men.
On February 9, Tuesday at noon time, Jennifer Albacite, on her mid-40s, was gunned down by still unknown individuals at Brgy. Poblacion, Compostela, Compostela Valley Province.
Companions of Albacite surmise that it was her sister, Jeannirose Porras, a staff of the Compostela Farmers’ Association (CFA), was the real target of the killing.
Officers and members of CFA has been red-tagged by 66th and 67th IBPA due to their opposition against the entry of Agusan Petroleum Mining Company (AgPet) and AFP’s Oplan Bayanihan counter-insurgency campaign, which has been targeting civilians and human rights defenders.
Around 3 pm of the same date, Ronel Paas, 35, a small-scale miner in Sitio Diat, Post Four, Brgy. Napnapan, Pantukan, Compostela Valley, was hit by a bullet in the chest after elements of the 46th IB went on an indiscriminate firing spree.
According to residents in the area, the 46th IB fired M203 grenades and bullets towards the civilian population, after failing to go after the NPA in the area.
Paas managed to survive his gunshot wound, but was held at the military detachment in Brgy. Tibagon, Pantukan, Compostela Valley. He was detained for an hour, and was finally released after his kin and co-workers presented ID’s confirming his civilian identity.
According to Paas’ wife, her husband was still alive at the military detachment, even pinching the men carrying him to hospital, weakly telling them to hurry up.
Two other casualties in the said area was a 14 year old boy, who was hit in the leg, and a woman who sustained a bullet in the chest. The location of the woman is kept confidential for the time being, while the boy was taken by the military to Camp Panacan in Davao City, then branded as NPA child warrior
Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR, condemned the rapid killings of civilians and progressive leaders.
“In Southern Mindanao, it’s countdown to genocide for mass leaders and civilians, as armed forces of the state continue to militarize rural areas”
Suazo claimed that most of the recent cases of extra-judicial killings were either “supporters of the alternative schools, opposition to foreign large-scale mining, and critics of the Oplan Bayanihan.”
Suazo added many civilians in Sitio Diat, Post-4 could readily attest to the civilian status of Paas and the 14 year old boy, while “only the military can parrot and believe their contrived truths that these men were NPA members. 10th IDPA-Eastern Mindanao Command is a pathological liar. They are branding civilians as NPAs in order to escape criminal liability which explains the worsening state of impunity in the Philippines.”
Suazo belied the claims of the military that they had no hand in the killing of Teresita Navacilla and frustrated murder on Alexander Josol, with the recent civilian injuries, illegal arrests and deaths in Pantukan.
“These killings in Pantukan add strength to our claim that the 46th IB is out to displace civilian communities, to pave way for large-scale mining in the area.”
According to Karapatan-SMR, there are already 57 victims of extra-judicial killings in the region since the BS Aquino regime took office.
“If there’s anything that this country is reminded of, it’s that Oplan Bayanihan is not against the NPA. It’s the state murdering its own people,” she concluded.
February 10, 2016
CONTACT PERSON: HANIMAY SUAZO, SECRETARY-GENERAL