DAVAO CITY – High-ranking Army officials in the region were tagged by human rights group today as those who ordered the shooting of an activist in Tagum City.
Members of Karapatan Southern Mindanao, a human rights group believes that Major General Aurelio Baladad of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) and newly assigned army commander of the 10th Infantry Division Major General Eduardo Año ordered for the assassination of Dexter Ian Selebrado, an organizer-activist for the farmer’s group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.
An indignation rally was conducted by members of progressive organizations including Karapatan in front of Eastmincom’s headquarters, this city to condemn the incident.
Karapatan Secretary General Hanimay Suazo said that Selebrado, was “one of those who exposed the militarization and human rights violations in the areas of Loreto in Agusan, Kapalong, Talaingod, and other close communities in Davao del Norte.”
In a statement, Karapatan said that “the assassination attempt of the peasant rights activist is a handiwork of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).”
“Major Gen. Baladad was charged with other military officers including the former 10th ID chief Lt. Gen. Jorge Segovia, on the case of illegal arrest, detention and torture of 43 health workers in Morong, Rizal in 2010. While Maj. Gen. Año was filed with criminal case with the Department of Justice by the mother of missing farmer activist, Editha Burgos, for ordering the abduction of Jonas Burgos in 28 April 2007,” the statement read.
Suazo said that “despite the objection of Editha Burgos, Año was even appointed as ISAFP chief and now heads the 10th ID in the region.”
On the other hand, Año denied the accusations. “We never order such things. We equally condemn this act, and whoever the perpetrator of this should be apprehended and made to answer for the crime,” said Año in a text message sent to Davao Today.
“Let’s let the PNP conduct the investigation, but we shall be ready to assist them if they will need it,” he added.
On the other hand, Bayan Southern Mindanao Spokesperson Sheena Duazo believes that, “only state forces are interested in taking the life of Dexter.”
Duazo said that this incident is “part of the counter insurgency program of Aquino administration; to silence the legal organizations in urban areas and legal peasant organizations in the country side.”
Meanwhile, Duazo added that it is not only Selebrado who was targeted “for we’re not certain with the fascist and desperate administration in silencing its critiques.”
The group calls for the government to act for the justice on these attempted killing towards the peasant rights activist.
Karapatan also challenged the government agency that’s mandated to conduct investigation and file case to formally file warrant to the perpetrator that they’re hoping to be identified soon.
“We just want the mandated agency, the Department of Justice, to take the side of the victim,” Suazo said.
Selebrado is still under observation in a hospital in Tagum City. (davaotoday.com)