As bishop cries justice, groups slam military for brother’s slay

Mar. 24, 2014

Davao’s Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla demanded justice for the country’s extra-judicial killings that included his brother, former political detainee and fair trade advocate Romeo, who was gunned down in Oton, Iloilo last week.

The bishop spoke during his younger brother’s burial Sunday in Leon, Iloilo, attended by some 6,000 mourners coming from neighboring provinces, a newspaper source said.

The bishop was quoted saying: “We strongly condemn this heinous and unconscionable crime. We demand justice for my unarmed brother Romy and for many other victims like him. We condemn this barbarous act before his disabled mother-in-law.”

Romeo, aged 65, was gunned down last March 15 near the public market of Oton town by unidentified gunmen in four motorcycles. He was helping his 90-year old mother-in-law board his car when he was shot.  He succumbed to two shots in the head.

Romeo was chair of the board of Panay Fair Trade Center (PFTC), a group promoting and selling organic farm products such as muscovado sugar and bananas locally and in Europe.

He was a founding member of the Panay chapter of Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), being a political detainee during the Martial Law period. After his release, colleagues said he spent his time advocating the production of organic food.

In describing his younger brother, the bishop said in his article in the Davao Catholic Herald that Romeo “loved the poor and the needy… He often told me he knew that the socioeconomic-politico-cultural injustice was the cause of oppression and poverty in this country.”

Bayan Muna Partylist representatives Carlos Zarate and Neri Colmenares filed a resolution urging the Congress’ Committee on Human Rights to investigate the killing of Capalla.

The partylist said in its resolution Capalla is the 11th victim of extrajudicial killings in the last two and a half months, starting in January 2014”.

They further said Capalla’s murder “followed the pattern of similar other victims of  extrajudicial killings in the past: vilified in public, placed under surveillance  or in named the military’s Order of Battle, then, killed.”

They said colleagues of Capalla believed state agents are behind his killing.

Capalla was arrested on August 2005 on charges of being involved with the New People’s Army in an arson case in Guimbal, Iloilo.  He was released after the charges were dismissed.

Bayan Muna said Capalla’s co-accused, Aklan Councilor Fernando Baldomero, was the first victim of extrajudicial killing under the Aquino administration, five days after Aquino was sworn into office.

But the administration dismissed the group’s allegations, saying there is no state policy of attacks on activists, and that a task force on extrajudicial killings have been formed under the Department of Justice.

The human rights group Karapatan said there are 169 cases of extrajudicial killings in Aquino’s term.

The United States State Department released its 2014 Human Rights Report criticizing the Philippine government that extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances involving government security forces continued.

Meanwhile, the National Democratic Front Panay Region in a statement revealed that two sugar mills supported by Capalla’s FTPC in Janiuay town were burned down by unidentified persons on the time of Capalla’s death.

NDF Panay spokesperson Concha Araneta tagged the military and paramilitary groups on these attacks.

“Such despicable extrajudicial killing of Romeo Capalla, and arson inflicted on small farmers organization’s property, is the signature modus of the US-Aquino regime’s military and their special units and paramilitary outfit (such as the RPA-ABB). Such units are maintained for such “dirty jobs” against people’s organization and personalities,” their statement said.

Araneta tagged the Philippine Army’s Third Infantry Division and Military Intelligence Battalion as behind the attacks, and went further to mock Third ID Commander Major General Aurelio Balada.

“Major General Baladad could now upgrade his achievements from the mere illegal arrestor of the Morong 43 (a group of legitimate health workers in training) to being the new overseer of a continuing serial political killing by military men in Panay,” Araneta said. (

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