DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Human rights group Karapatan reported three cases of politically motivated killings, and two activists abducted last week.
Aaron Notarte, 25, a resident of Barangay Manat in Agusan del Sur province was found dead in a local funeral home in Trento town on Monday, January 15.
“He was brought (to a funeral home) by elements of the 75th IBPA (Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army) on that same day,” Karapatan-Caraga said in a statement.
Notarte sustained two gunshot wounds and bruises that signifies he was beaten.
“The 75th IBPA troops who brought him claimed that Aaron was NPA killed in a firefight with the military in Area 69, Barangay Imelda, Bunawan, Agusan del Sur. It was alleged that Aaron was in possession of 2 AK rifles,” Karapatan-Caraga added.
The human rights group belied the accusation, saying Notarte was merely a chainsaw operator and was riding a motorcycle from his workplace at Area 69 on his way home on January 14 when he encountered members of the military.
Notarte was the sole breadwinner and left behind his 62-year-old sickly mother Erlinda Notarte.
On the next day, January 16, Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region (SMR) reported that two farmers in Barangay Marayag, Lupon town in Davao Oriental “were forcibly taken” by suspected military elements.
The victims were identified as Filjun Celeste Arpajo, 30, and Venjie Catampo, 28, both residents of Purok Mahayahay, Barangay Marayag.
Karapatan received reports from the residents of Barangay Marayag that “they were brought by (the) military and used as guides.”
Jay Apiag, Karapatan-SMR spokesperson, told Davao Today that they were “illegally detained” for three days.
On Saturday night, January 20, another farmer was shot dead by an unidentified gunman outside a shopping mall in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.
James Flores, 33, a resident of Purok Cadena, Barangay Mankilam, Tagum City was tying his groceries to his motorcycle as he prepared to leave the vicinity of the mall when he was killed.
According to the report, Flores sustained multiple gunshots.
Flores was a member of Pederasyon sa tanang Asosasyon sa mga Mag-uuma ug Lumad sa Agusan ug Davao (PAMULAD), a local peasant organization under Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).
Another farmer was killed on Monday, January 22, in Bukidnon province.
Anecito Lopez Jr. 55, and secretary general of Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma (KASAMA), a local peasant organization under KMP was shot dead by an unidentified gunman at Purok 3, Daitan in Quezon town.
Human rights defenders and peace advocates are alarmed over the steep increase of human rights violations in Mindanao since the extension of martial law.
Rev. Jurie Jaime, convenor of Exodus for Justice and Peace, said that “the extension of Martial Law gives the military the license to suppress human rights defenders and members of progressive groups who dissent against the anti-people policies of President Duterte.”
“We urge the Duterte administration to stop the Martial and go back to the negotiating table. We should put an end to poverty and stop attacking the poor people who dissent and raise legitimate demands to the government,” Jaime said. (davaotoday.com)