Karapatan alarmed by rise in killings of farmers and lumads from May to June

June 20, 2016


Karapatan Southern Mindanao raises alarm on the eight cases of extrajudicial killings particularly against farmers and lumads in Davao region in the past 30 days by suspected state agents as the Aquino administration nears end.

The group urges the incoming Duterte administration to investigate the killings and hold military personnel and outgoing President Benigno Aquino III accountable for the blatant attacks on human rights of the poor.

Karapatan said the killings of the farmers and lumads were politically related as families and witnesses said the victims were constant targets of the state agents’ red-baiting and surveillance.

Among the killed were:

1 – Maria Myrna Cayag, chairperson of Monkayao Farmers Association (Mofa) and board member of Binulig Cooperative. Cayag was shot by suspected state agents last May 7 and was comatose for a month until she succumbed on June 9 in the hospital. Last March the 25th Infantry Battalion told her to “surrender” as she was included in the Order of Battle list which usually targets the NPAs.

2 – Datu Julio Laracio, 50, a tribal chieftain of Sitio Kisapwac, Barangay Digongan, Kitaotao, Bukidnon was killed June 15. Witnesses identified the perpetrator as an officer from the 68th IB.

3 – Johnny Basilisco of Loreto, Agusan del Sur was shot dead last June 6 in Brgy. Kauswagan. He was reportedly shot by a Cafgu who is also a barangay official. His finger was also chopped off.

4 – Paul Saludaga was killed May 21 in Laak, Compostela Valley. Witnesses said the suspect was an intelligence operative, who went searching for Saludaga and confronted him early that day alleging Saludaga was an NPA supporter.

5 – Marjun Baruer, of San Isidro, Davao del Norte was shot dead in front of a sari-sari store in his village.

6, 7 – Elenita Garing, 48 years old; and Will Biliran alyas Ka Joel, were NPA members who were seen captured in Lumiad, Paquibato on June 9 by soldiers during an encounter, but were found dead the next day. The family of Garing suspects she was raped as her underwear was removed from her body.

8 – An unidentified lumad in Bukidnon.

Karapatan points out that the Aquino administration’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan “has only set out to exterminate farmers and lumads. This so-called ‘winning the peace’ campaign has left a trail of blood in Southern Mindanao with 67 people killed.

It has turned state agents such as soldiers, CAFGU, and paramilitary to become judge and executioner on farmers and lumads, who were raising their demands for the right to farms, land and ancestral domain against the entry of plantations and large-scale mining, and the overall neglect of the government on their needs as farmers.”

Karapatan also criticizes the AFP for the manner of killings of the captured NPAs Garing and Biliran, as it violates the International Humanitarian Law particularly on the Geneva Conventions relative to the treatment of prisoners of war, where captured combatants should be treated humanely.

Karapatan said there are also 18 cases of illegal arrests and detention on farmers and lumads in the same on mere suspicion of being members of NPA.

Karapatan condemns the outgoing Aquino administration for making its final strike against human rights before its term ends on June 30. The group urges the new Duterte administration to investigate this matter, and bring Aquino pay for his accountability on extrajudicial killings against farmers and lumads.