‘MORE RAMPANT, BRUTAL, FEARLESS’ Bayawan shooting kills 2, hurts 1

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

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BACOLOD City – Armed men ambushed three members of a fact-finding mission team in Barangay San Ramon, Bayawan City, Negros Oriental yesterday. Two team members were killed while another was injured.

Elisa Badayos of Karapatan-Central Visayas and Elioterio Moises, a village watchman and member of a local peasant organization Mantapi Ebwan Farmers Association, were pronounced “dead on arrival” in a hospital in Bayawan.

Their co-team member – who was only identified as the 23-year-old Kabataan Partylist member pending information to reach his parents – was currently under treatment.

Based on Karapatan-Negros’ email sent to Panay News, the three were on board a habal-habal at around 2:30 p.m. when the unknown suspects gunned them down.

The gunmen’s exact number has yet to be determined.

Badayos, Moises and the Kabataan Partylist member were part of the 30-member fact-finding mission team tasked to look into the reported human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by military members encamped in communities in Bayawan and Santa Catalina in Negros Oriental.

Before entering their mission site at around 11 a.m. yesterday, the team was allegedly blocked and harassed by the mayor’s armed men. They were questioned if what was their purpose in coming to the place.

The team was eventually allowed to pass, though.

But Badayos, Moises and the Kabataan partylist member decided to go to the police station to file a complaint against the armed men, that was when they were shot.

In a statement, Karapatan national secretary-general Cristina Palabay said attacks on human rights defenders are becoming “more rampant, brutal and fearless.”

Palabay said the fact-finding mission was orchestrated to confirm the reports of human rights abuses in the area.

That the members of the team were attacked only proved that “fascism works to kill those who dare to question.”

“The space for human rights defenders is fast shrinking as the Duterte regime finds more and more ways to cripple defenders on the ground who voice out the real situation experienced by marginalized communities victimized by militarization,” Palabay said.

Palabay also decried Negros Oriental Provincial Ordinance No. 5 series of 2008, which regulates outreach activities such as medical and fact-finding missions in the countryside of the province.

The provincial ordinance prohibits nongovernment organizations and other cause-oriented groups to conduct any humanitarian mission in Negros Oriental without permission from the governor, municipal government and the municipal police, Palabay said.

She added that the violators are subject to imprisonment for 6 months and are fined P5,000.

Earlier, Karapatan-Negros secretary-general Clarissa Singson-Dagatan warned of possible human rights abuses after President Rodrigo Duterte cancelled all peace negotiations between the government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Singson-Dagatan also said the President made the situation “worse” when he labeled militant organizations under the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan as legal fronts of the CPP./PN



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