Bukidnon farmer killed, groups blame army’s counter-insurgency drive

Feb. 06, 2014

By Davao Today

Davao City – A farmer leader in Bukidnon was killed and his companion wounded in Valencia City, Bukidnon by unidentified assailantsWednesday morning.

Julieto Lauron, a member of the farmers Kasama-Bukidnon which is affiliated with Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, was shot deadWednesday morning in Crossing Hindangon, Hagkol, Valencia City, Bukidnon.

His companion, Nermie Lapatis from the indigenous group Kasilo, was wounded in the leg.

Reports from Alerto Pesante said Lauron was driving a motorcycle with Lapatis as his passenger and were on their way to a meeting with farmers when they were shot by their assailants who were riding-in tandem on a motorcycle.

Lapatis reportedly pretended to lay dead and was rescued later and is currently hospitalized.

The groups of Lauron and Lapatis suspect that the military’s counter-insurgency campaign has led to this attack.

In a statement, KMP Northern Mindanao chair Danilo Menente pointed out that two weeks prior to the incident, a military battalion was deployed in the province for counter-insurgency operations.

“The killing of Lauron came almost two weeks after more than a hundred troops belonging to the 1st Special Force Battalion who came from Quezon province was sent to Bukidnon to confront the apparent growing strength of the rebel group NPA,” Menente said.

Menente said his group opposed the deployment as they feared human rights abuses might happened.

Jomorito Guaynon, chairperson of the indigenous group Kalumbay Northern Mindanao said the 1st Special Force Battalion was “involved in the infamous Atimonan shootout where 13 people were killed, including civilians.”

Menente told Davao Today that the night before the shooting, Lauron was photographed by an unidentified person when he was attending a neigbor’s birthday.

Menente said this incident “is a grim reminder of the brutal nature of (President) BS Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan campaign of suppression which, like its predecessor targets legal organizations struggling for human rights and tags them as NPA supporters. Surely this is a bad indicator of things to come.”

Menente slammed the 4th Infantry Division which covers the area of Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon and Caraga Region under Commander General Ricardo Visaya who he tagged as a “protégé and buddy of notorious and wanted at-large General Jovito Palparan.”

Guaynon added that Gen. Visaya was “one of the think-tanks behind militarizing Bicol region as well as urban areas in National Capital Region. He was also the ground commander (during) the Hacienda Luisita massacre in 2004.”

Menente and Guaynon both called on authorities and local government to investigate “the pattern of killings” against peasant and indigenous leaders in Mindanao. (davaotoday.com)

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