DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Updated as of 6:44 pm)— An activist farmer was killed by a “riding-in-tandem” around 10 am Thursday in Pantukan, Compostela Valley.
In an interview with Davao Today, Hector Buscayno a member of the Hugpong sa mga Mag-uuma sa Walog Compostela reported that his colleague Edwin Catog was shot by two men on board a motorcycle while he was on his way to buy fish.
He said Catog, 45, a resident of Purok 1 Less, Barangay Fuentes came from their house when the incident happened.
“Gikan siya sa ilang balay, kay nag-atang siya mopalit og isda. Didto sya banda sa crossing gyud, unya daghang tao man atong higayona, gihunungan lang sya og motor, diretso pusil sa iyaha,” Buscayno said.
(He came from his house, he was waiting to buy fish. A motorcycle stopped at him and shot him in front of the public along the highway’s intersection)
Buscayno said Catog’s family informed him of the incident.
Buscayno said he could not think of any other motive for the shooting of Catog aside from their involvement in progressive groups.
He said prior to the incident, he and Catog joined the protest action of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. in Tagum City December last year.
“In our community in Fuentes, I could not pin point someone that Catog has disagreement with since ordinary folks here are farmers. We also don’t have prime properties that will be source of conflict. But I am certain that this has something to do with our involvement with progressive groups,” Buscayno said in vernacular.
He cited an instance on December 21 last year when they were asked by unidentified armed men believed to be guards of a banana plantation inside the compound why they were joining the protest in Marbai.
He quoted the armed men asking them: “Kamo taga asa? Ngano niabot mo diri nga dili man mo taga diri? (Where are you from? Why are you here when you are not from this area?)”
Buscayno said they were only expressing their support for the farmers’ who were demanding to get their lands.
In a phone interview, Police Officer 2 Junamer Ongy of the PNP Pantukan Municipal Police Station confirmed that the incident was reported to the police around 11:50 am. He said investigation is still ongoing to determine the motive of the incident.
Members of Marbai protested last year to claim the 145-hectare farm area inside a banana plantation in Madaum, Tagum City. The said farm is managed by the Lapanday Foods Corporation.
Last December 19, the Department of Agrarian Reform implemented the cease and desist order which said the agrarian beneficiaries are the rightful owners of the contested farm area.
Aside from the agrarian reform beneficiaries, progressive groups and farmers from other municipalities joined the protest action. (davaotoday.com)