DAVAO CITY – A leader of a farmer’s organization who “resisted” Army operations in their village North Cotabato, was killed morning of Tuesday in Barangay Naje, Arakan town.
Joel Gulmatico, 58, was shot dead by motorcycle-riding men while he was driving a motorcycle, meters away from his house at 9:15 am, according to an alert issued by the Apo-Sandawa Lumadnong Panaghiusa sa Cotabato (ASLPC), an umbrella peasant organization in North Cotabato.
ASLPC said Gulmatico, chairman of the peasant organization Arakan Progressive Peasant Organization (APPO), was then heading to Barangay Naje when he was killed.
Norma Capuyan, chairperson of ASLPC, said Gulmatico “has been very vocal of his opposition to the Army’s PDOP (peace and development outreach program).”
“He was a village kagawad (councilman) who served for three terms and in 2013 tried to run for village chairman but he lost because the Army campaigned against him,” said Capuyan.
Gulmatico “has been receiving death threats since 2005 because of his pro-peasant stance as a councilman and it intensified in 2013 during the attempt of the military’s PDOP,” said Capuyan.
Capuyan said because of Gulmatico and his group’s opposition, “the Army was not able to push through with their PDOP in their village.”
Capuyan said Gulmatico’s two other brothers are also under threat from the Army.
“I am also under threat since 2006, as well as other indigenous people’s leaders and leaders of peasant organizations in almost every municipality (of North Cotabato),” said Capuyan.
In 2012, an Italian missionary Fr. Fausto Tentorio, PIME, was also killed while inside his parish compound in Arakan.
Among the motives cited by investigators on Tentorio’s murder was an alleged plan of politicians and businessmen to facilitate the entry of a mining investment in Arakan which the priest staunchly fought.(davaotoday.com)