DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Human rights group Karapatan demand an end to the spate of killings in the country believed to be perpetrated by state forces and agents.
Karapatan pointed out the murder of three human rights defenders in separate incidents but took place only in one week, including the killing of 15-year-old Lumad student in Mindanao.
In a statement on Tuesday, Karapatan Deputy Secretary-General Roneo Clamor condemned these killings, believing that these are not isolated cases, “but a systematic attack against indigenous and peasant communities who continue to raise legitimate demands for education, self-determination and genuine land reform.”
“Students, their communities, and the schools which they have founded and built are being attacked. Farmers and their organizations, as well as their supporters, are being attacked. Human rights defenders and activists are being targeted,” Clamor added. “The Filipino people who remain firm in the defense of their rights are in extreme danger under this brutal and murderous regime.”
The Save our Schools Network reported that Jerome Pangadas, Grade 6 student enrolled at the Salugpongan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center (STTICLC), in Talaingod Davao del Norte was shot dead by a militiaman on March 15.
Students of community schools are ‘increasingly’ at risk under the Duterte government, Clamor said, blaming military troops in targeting these schools.
On September 2017, Obello Bay-ao, 19 years old, also a student of STTICLC was killed by known members of Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) in Talaingod.
Karapatan also reported the killing of James Vinas, former Bayan Muna coordinator in Borongan, Eastern Samar, who was gunned down by a riding in tandem on the evening of March 12.
Days later, another farmer in Brgy. San Isidro, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan was killed by unknown assailants on March 18.
The victim, Larry Suganob, was an active member of Pinagbuklod, an affiliate group of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP). Suganob was a staunch anti-land grabbing activist especially against names like the Ayalas, according to Karapatan.
“Not only are individuals and communities being targeted, but their advocacies are being criminalized and red-tagged. This regime does not recognize the civil and political rights of its people, nor does it respect or promote the social, cultural and economic rights of these communities. The Duterte government is hell-bent on forcing mega-projects that ultimately spell land grabbing, displacement, and irreparable environmental degradation to communities. This is forcefully implemented by employing paramilitary units and unleashing the whole gamut of state security forces who mercilessly kill and massacre on command,” said Clamor.
The group called on the disband of paramilitary groups and ending the government’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan.
“The killings of Pangadas, Vinas, and Suganob bring to light the continuous attack and atrocities being committed by state forces against indigenous and peasant communities. Instead of victim-blaming, impunity and the weaving of lies which the government resorts to when being questioned with these cases, it should focus on resolving and addressing these incidents and the causes which led to it,” Clamor concluded. (davaotoday.com)