DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A relative of a farmer who was accused of supporting the New People’s Army lamented his death as she called on the government forces to stop tagging farmers as rebels.
Rose (not her real name), 58, called for justice for the death of her nephew, Pedro Pandagay.
“If they have mercy, there should be assistance to the family. Those who have committed crimes, like those soldiers in the hinterlands should go down. They should not be harassing the communities,” she said.
Rose said soldiers have accused farmers like her as supporters of the New People’s Army.
“They brand you as an NPA whenever they see you walk during the night. We are just farmers,” she lamented.
She, however, admitted that NPA fighters enter their area, but said that they never stay for long.
Her nephew, Pandagay, died at 4:30 am on March 23 in his house in Anitapan, Mabini in Compostela Valley.
“In fact, he was still in his undergarments and was boiling water. [Someone] first grabbed him from the window. [He was living] in a hut because he was a farmer. [Someone] tried to grab him, but only managed to grab his blanket,” she said.
Rose said the assailant who wore a mask then broke in Pandagay’s hut with one kick and grabbed him by the neck. Pandagay’s 13-year-old son tried to grab him back but was pushed back by the assailant.
The assailant shot Pandagay in front of his children.
“They [soldiers] were probably suspecting that Pedro was working for the [New People’s Army], or a supporter. But the truth is, he is not. He was only a farmer supporting his family,” she said.
Pandagay was a board director of the Golden Valley Banana Planters Association, an affiliate of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas based in Compostela Valley.
He is survived by his four children and his blind wife. Since Pandagay’s death, his 13-year-old son has stopped schooling and has engaged in small-scale mining to help the family.
Pandagay is among the 31 victims of state-sponsored killings under President Rodrigo Duterte, as reported by human rights group Karapatan Southern Mindanao Region. (davaotoday.com)