DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Another name has been added to the growing list of politically-motivated killings under the Dutertegovernment.
Farmer Elias Pureza, 60, was shot dead by six unidentified motorcycle riders in his home in Purok Palmera, Barangay Mamangan, San Isidro in Davao del Norte at around 8 PM on Thursday.
In a Facebook status alert, Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said the assailants were suspected intelligence operatives of the 60th Infantry Battalion.
“One of the assailants knocked at Pureza’s door and when his wife opened the door, the assailant forcibly entered the house of the victim and immediately shot Elias in front of his family resulting to his sudden death,” Palabay said.
Pureza was a member of Farmers Association of San Isidro, a member organization of the Pederasyon sa mga Mag-uuma ugLumad sa Agusan ug Davao.
According to KARAPATAN Southern Mindanao Region, there are already 23 recorded cases of extrajudicial killings in Southern Mindanao Region alone.
Karapatan spokesperson Jay Apiag said 18 of them were leaders of militant peasant groups.
The human rights group listed the following victims: Noel Gulmatico (July 1, 2016), Hermi Alegre (July 15, 2016), JessybelSanchez (Aug. 14, 2016), Jimmy Saypan (October 10, 2016), Norberto Gascon (September 13, 2016), Rita Apayart (September 13, 2016), Joselito Pasaporte (October 13, 2016), Emelito Rotimas(Feb. 6, 2017), Glenn Ramos (Feb. 6, 2017), Rey Rabadon(February 8, 2017), Edweno Catog (Feb. 16, 2017), Ariel Gelbiro(Feb. 16, 2017), Roel Rico Satingasin (February 16, 2017), Willerme Agorde (February 19, 2017), Leonila Pesadilla (March 2, 2017), Ramon Pesadilla (March 2, 2017), Pedro Pandagay (March 23, 2017), Cora Lina (March 27, 2017), Arman Almonicar, (March 27, 2017), Danilo Nadal (April 2, 2017), Jeffry Santos (March 30, 2017), Elias Pureza (April 6, 2017).
In a statement, Exodus for Justice and Peace convener Bishop Hamuel G. Tequis condemned the killings, saying that the all-out war waged by the army targets civilians not the New People’s Army guerrillas.
“These atrocities are not just alarming but also creates impunity to these blood thirsty AFP elements in justifying their fascist actions towards the progressive movement. These are clear violations on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law that was sighned by the GRP and the NDFP during the Estrada administration,” Tequis said.
This, as negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines has recently concluded the fourth round of talks in the Netherlands.
Randall Echanis, the spokesperson of the NDFP’s Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms expressed dismay at Pureza’s death in the hands of suspected state agents, which happened an hour before the closing ceremonies.
“The ink has hardly dried on the documents signifying the advances in talks on agrarian reform, but the military keeps on spilling the blood of farmers,” Echanis said in a statement.
Echanis said the farmer’s death signals “the urgency of reaching an agreement on much-needed reforms, especially in areas in the countryside embroiled in land disputes.”
“The RWC-SER of both parties ended the fourth round with a firm consensus on distributing land for free as the ‘basic principle of genuine agrarian reform.’ They also agreed to accelerate the process of concluding the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms,” Echanis added.
The joint statement signed at the closing ceremonies of the 4th round of peace negotiations in The Netherlands included a provision the complaints submitted by the NDFP last year related to the spate of human rights abuses under the heading Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Lawand JASIG.
It said that the GRP has “already forwarded complaints to concerned government agencies and is awaiting further developments.”
The military denied the allegations that it was behind Pureza’skilling.
In a phone interview, 2Lt. Amadeus Celestial, spokesperson of the 60th Infantry Battalion Civilian Military Operations said that the sole responsibility of their intelligence operatives is to provide information, not engage in combat operations.
Celestial maintained that they adhere to the rules of engagement, saying they do not fire at surrendering guerrillas, lest unarmed civilians.
“Siguro po noong unang panahon, nangyayari ‘yan. Pero ako popersonally, and professionally naniniwala po ako na talagangnagbago na, nag turn na yung tables natin pagdating dito sa pagooperate dito sa kabukiran. Alam namin ang karapatan ngmga tao at nirerespeto namin ‘yun”
(Maybe before, that happens, But I, personally and professionally believe that [we] have changed, our tables have turned when it comes to operating here in the countryside. We know the rights of the people and we respect them), Celestial said. (davaotoday.com)