DAVAO CITY — Over 300 people marched and converged near the Carigara Public Cemetery to commemorate the death of a disaster survivor Jefferson Custodio, development worker and volunteer of People Surge who was gunned down last year because of red-tagging.
Marissa Cabaljao, secretary general of People’s Surge said Custodio, 25, gunned down by alleged state elements August 22 of last year while he was delivering farm tools for farmer beneficiaries in the upland villages of Carigara, Leyte.
“Months after Custodio’s death, his uncle was shot dead in Tabon-Tabon, Leyte allegedly by the military,” she said in a statement Monday.
“Our truthful criticisms earned us the ire and vindictiveness of the ‘disaster president’ as manifested in the continuous harassment and killings among our ranks,” said Cabaljao.
He said Custodio has been actively engaged in relief efforts after Yolanda struck the region.
“Despite our well-meaning desire to help out the marginalized in the hinterlands, they tag development workers as members of the New People’s Army (NPA). Recalling from last year, then rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson labelled disaster survivors who protested as ‘communists’,” said Cabaljao.
Last month, development worker and Alternative Learning for Agricultural Development (ALCADEV) Executive Director was slain by elements of the military in Surigao del Sur. Samarca, who also served as school principal of the alternative school was brutally killed by suspected military forces.
“The case of Samarca is pretty much parallel with that of Custodio. While militarization strikes Lumad communities in Mindanao, farmers in Eastern Visayas are constant targets of attacks, too” Cabaljao added.
Cabaljao said human rights group Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas documented at least 13 cases of extrajudicial killings from the ranks of disaster survivors and community leaders since Yolanda.
“We remember Jefferson to send a clear message of opposing any form of human rights violations against fellow disaster survivors, development workers and community organizers. We hold our ‘disaster president’ Benigno Aquino, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, as accountable for these rights violations,” Cabaljao said. (davaotoday.com)