BS Aquino regime no let-up in hunting down human rights workers

Karapatan slams the BS Aquino regime for hunting human rights workers as Karapatan-Sorsogon Spokesperson Teodoro “Ka Tudoy” Escanilla was gunned down on August 20, 2015 in Barcelona, Sorsogon. 
Escanilla had been a human rights worker since 1998 as part of the Sorsogon People’s Organization (SPO), a community-based human rights organization in Sorsogon province. He joined Karapatan-Sorsogon in 2006 as its spokesperson. He was also radio commentator for 10 years, serving as anchor of a local radio program, “Pamana ng Lahi” (Legacy of our people). 

Escanilla constantly received threats from the military. Karapatan documentation showed he had been under surveillance since 2003, including several encounters between him and the military units assigned in Sorsogon. In 2011, Escanilla was falsely charged with frustrated murder and damage to property in a supposed raid conducted at a police station in the town of Barcelona.  

The latest threat to Escanilla’s life had been known in February 2015. Sgt. Rene Enteria of the 31st Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army arrested, tortured and then offered a resident of the same barangay where Escanilla lived Php50, 000 and a .45 caliber gun to kill Escanilla. The person, whose name cannot be disclosed for security purposes, immediately reported the incident, and other human rights violations committed by the 31st IB-PA in their community, to Karapatan-Sorsogon.  
Two gunmen shot Escanilla at around 11:15 p.m. on August 20, using an M16 rifle and a .45 caliber handgun. He was already asleep when his house was stoned prompting him to look through the window. His body bore two gunshot wounds in the stomach, one in the left shoulder and another in his right cheek. The two gunmen got away using three motorcycles and one tricycle with eight other men who were part of the operation. 

“A similar attack against human rights worker William Bugatti of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance-Karapatan happened in Ifugao on March 5, 2014 and Romualdo Palispis on June 30, 2012. Palispis was an officer of the Justice and Peace Action Group based in Aurora province. There is no let-up,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general. 

Palabay said aside from the killings, the government is more aggressive in “criminalizing legitimate human rights work by filing trumped up criminal charges against leaders of human rights organizations and other political activists who assist victims of human rights violations, specifically those in Mindanao.”  

Hanimay Suazo, Secretary General of Karapatan-Southern Mindanao and Pastor Sadrach Sabella, Secretary General of Karapatan-SoCSKSarGen were among the 35 leaders of people’s organizations and human rights advocates falsely charged with kidnapping, serious illegal detention, violation of anti-trafficking law, Republic Act 9851 at anti-child abuse law because of the assistance they provided to the more than 1,200 evacuees from the hinterlands of Malapatan, Saranggani Province and those from the provinces of Davao del Norte and Bukidnon. 

Some 70 other leaders of human rights organization and progressive groups, including Karapatan National Secretary General Cristina Palabay and Jacqueline Ruiz of the Children Rehabilitation Center, were implicated in the same case. 

“The BS Aquino government is so desperate to suppress dissent and cover up its mounting attacks against the people that it has included among its targets human rights workers. This may be a prelude to an intensified fascist attacks against those who criticize the regime,” said Palabay as she called on the people to remain vigilant as “we pursue our goal to end BS Aquino’s tuwid na daan.” ### 


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