Davao Today

DAVAO CITY – Over a week after the May 10 polls, another activist was killed by still unidentified gunmen in Panabo City.

Jim Galez, a member of the regional secretariat of partylist group Bayan Muna, was driving his motorcycle on the road to Barangay Little Panay in Panabo City on Wednesday, May 19, when shot by still unidentified gunmen.

John Birondo, spokesperson of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), said Galez was an active member of Bayan Muna, one of the groups whose members were reportedly targeted in the spate of extrajudicial killings in the country. Progressive groups earlier linked these incidents of extrajudicial killings to the military’s counter-insurgency strategy Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL).

Birondo said that through the OBL, the military seeks to wipe out the armed Communist insurgency by targeting unarmed progressive groups.
“Remember that the OBL is not yet over,” Birondo said. “Their deadline is set on June but we doubt if they will ever end it.”

Birondo is still trying to get the full account of Galez’s death.

The killing of Galez broke the lull in political killings noticed during the political campaign period preceding the May elections. Birondo said the gun ban during the elections must have deterred the killings, at least during the poll period. The gun ban, which started on January 10, will end on June 9.

Eleven political activists were killed in Southern Mindanao in 2009. The eleven victims were members of political organizations that the military branded as “fronts” of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Although there was a lull in the killings, Birondo said, it did not mean that progressive groups were spared from various intimidation tactics by the military just to prevent them from winning seats in the parliament.

“Apparently they never succeeded because we made a good showing in the recent polls,” Birondo said.

But he said the killing of Galez might be sending the message that the military is “at it again,” referring to the OBL. (Cheryll D. Fiel/

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