Families of farmer activists killed in Davao region appeal for Duterte’s help

Apr. 21, 2017

ACCUSATION. Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Spokesperson Sheena Duazo slams the military for allegedly perpetrating politically motivated killings in the country in a protest held along Roxas Avenue, Davao City on Thursday, April 20. (Paulo C. Rizal/davaotoday.com)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Rutchiel Saypan, 26, joined other families of farmer-activists in a protest on Thursday to call for justice for her cousin, Jimmy Saypan .

Jimmy Saypan is the secretary general of the Compostela Farmers Association who was gunned down on October 10, 2016 by still unidentified gun men aboard motorcycles in Montevista, Compostela Valley Province.

With the death of Jimmy, Rutchiel joined Hustisya (Justice), a group of families of activists believed to be victims of political  killings.

On Thursday, along the sidelines of a picket rally organized by the group, Rutchiel told Davao Today that Jimmy was a good person.

“Maayo gyud siya nga tao, maayo sa pamilya. Maamumahon kaayo siya. Ug usa gyud siya sa mga tinuod nga nakigbisog para babagan ang mga dagkong kapitalista nga makasulod sa amoa, sama sa Agpet (He was a really good person and a good family man. He was caring. And he was one of those who truly struggled to prevent big capitalists from encroaching in our place, such as the Agpet [Agusan Petroleum]),” she said.

Before his death, Jimmy was tagged as a member of the New People’s Army.

Read related story: Farmer leader’s death violates ceasefire, peace talks – groups say

Rutchiel called on President Rodrigo Duterte to support them in their pursuit of justice.

“Panawagan nako kang Presidente Duterte nga unta mahumok ang iyang kasing kasing ug tabangan mi niya nga makab-ot ug paspas ang hustisya  (I would like to tell President Duterte to please have a soft heart and help us attain justice swiftly),” she said.

Saypan was one the 24 victims of politically motivated killings, according to Human Rights group Karapatan.

The latest victim was Bernardo Calan Ripdos, 66, who was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on April 8 in his house at Barangay Sangab, Maco, Compostela Valley.

Karapatan SMR spokesperson Jay Apiag said Ripdos was killed by “suspected military agents.”

Ripdos was a member of the Hugpong sa Mag-uuma sa Walog Compostela.

In an interview, Sheena Duazo of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan hit the army for “perpetrating” these killings.

“Isip pagkondena sa 24 na ka pulitikanhong pagpamatay sa atong rehiyon, sa southern mindanao region. Resulta kini sa nagkagrabe nga pakigbisog sa katawhan hilabi na sa kaubikiran alang sa ilang pagpanawagan sa yuta, pagkaon ug hustisya.”

([This rally] is in condemnation of the 24 political killings in Southern Mindanao Region. The series of killings is the result of the intensifying struggle of the people, especially in the countryside for land, food, and justice), Duazo said.

“Instead of addressing the needs of the people, especially the farmers, the state responded with harassment, surveillance, and violence led by the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Duazo added.

Read related story:  Farmer-activist shot by 6 gunmen

In a text message sent to Davao Today, 10th Infantry Division Spokesperson Captain Rhyan Batchar encouraged the groups to file charges against their named suspects.

“They should go beyond mere propaganda. We do not tolerate misfits in our organization,” Batchar added. (davaotoday.com)

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