3 farmers killed, 6 illegally arrested as 2019 rolls out - Karapatan

“There is no respite from the killings and illegal arrests. It seems that this government and its salaried mercenaries remain in a killing frenzy, targeting the poor in its twisted and militarist campaigns. As the year rolls out, the Duterte regime continues its grim legacy of outright disregard and scorn for human rights. We are set to face more challenging times ahead, as the country is plunged further down Duterte’s psychotic, cruel, and spiteful leadership,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, citing the cases of 3 extrajudicial killings and 6 victims of illegal arrests in January’s first two weeks.

On the evening of January 8, 2019, a 39-year-old farmer was gunned down in Brgy. Mabunga, San Francisco, Quezon. Albert Espenas was manning his store when assailants shot him, after the latter feigned to buy goods at the victim’s store. The killing of Espenas was used by the 85th Infantry Battalion to justify their militarization in San Francisco, Quezon. As of this writing, soldiers remain encamped in the area.

Three days later, on January 11, 2019, two separate incidents of killing occured in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental and Sorsogon, Bicol. In Brgy. Bulado, Guihulngan, Remeglo Arquillos, a habal-habal driver was flagged down by armed men while he was transporting two passengers to their destinations. According to the two witnesses, Arquillos was ordered to dismount from his motorcycle, after which he was shot four times. The assailants fled immediately.

Meanwhile in Bicol, a member of Anakpawis was also shot dead by four motorcycle-riding gunmen while standing near the village hall in Brgy. Bato, Bacon, Sorsogon. The victim, Nicasio Ebio, was 37 years old and an active member of Anakpawis.

“The victims are poor Filipinos who continue to bear the brunt of Duterte’s fascism. As Duterte continues to spout venomous speeches that stir controversy, this government’s foot soldiers and security forces are continuously training its guns on farmers, fisherfolk, and indigenous peoples. The year 2019 will yield more cases of rights violations as the Duterte regime treads down the path of tyranny. The sites of these killings are where soldiers are littered, and in the past year, these places been among the regions where violations continue incessantly,” added Palabay. She noted that as of 2018, there have been 23 political killings in Bicol and 27 in Western Visayas.

In a separate incident on January 14, 2019, six Kalinga farmers in San Mariano, Isabela were illegally arrested by elements of the 17th IBPA. The victims were identified as Espido Tamang, Jojo Tamang, Rodel Infiel, Arjay Zipagan, Tuting Ampa, and Porong Ampa. According to witnesses and Robert Turino, Brgy. Captain of Brgy. Paminan, the victims were strafed, illegally arrested, and brought to the military camp in Rogus, Cauyan City. The military alleged that the farmers were hiding grenades in their nets and baskets; this was vehemently disputed by the community. Due to the immediate and coordinated response of local officials, human rights organizations, and members of the community, the victims were eventually released from the military’s camp on the afternoon of January 16, 2019.

“The release of the six farmers prove that much can be gained from collective assertion. Despite the posturing of the military and the viciousness of State fascism, it is the Filipino people who can change the course of this nation steeped in systemic poverty, corruption and rights abuses. If the Duterte regime and its minions are steering the country to deeper crisis, it is the determined action of Filipinos who can drive it towards the direction of genuine change, towards a just and humane society,” concluded Palabay.

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, +639173162831 

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580

 

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