Cold-blooded murders signal the start of 2019 under Duterte – Karapatan

“If this is an indication of what is to come, then anyone from the communities, the ranks of human rights and peace advocates, and the poor and marginalized sectors are all at an even greater risk. The Duterte regime’s kill, kill, kill program under ruthless campaigns have resulted in cold-blooded, cowardly killings that target individuals who have given their lives to the pursuit of justice, peace, and defense of people’s rights. We are extremely enraged at the extent of which this government can outrightly violate our rights. The Duterte regime and its legion of ruthless murderers have sunk to an all-time low, into a bottomless pit of dastardly crimes that can only be masterminded and executed by the most brutal and cruel butchers,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, citing the recent killings of peace consultant Randy Felix Malayao and peasant leader Sergio Atay. 

On January 29, Sergio Atay, 35, a member of local peasant group Magbabaul, was gunned down in San Roque, Rizal town, Zamboanga del Norte. The victim was last seen alive at the Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) checkpoint in the highway of Sapang Dalaga, Misamis Occidental, and Rizal, Zamboanga del Norte on the evening of January 28. Atay was later found the next day, riddled with 5 bullets to the head. Medico-legal examination also revealed that he had torture marks and was hogtied.

Prior to his killing, Atay’s family reported that they were surveilled and were even visited by elements of the military several times in 2018. The peasant advocate was presumably targeted because of his active involvement as member of Magbabaul, which is also affiliated to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), an organization of farmers and advocates red-tagged by the government. 

A day later, on January 30, 2019, National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Randy Felix Malayao, 49, was killed while onboard a bus in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya. According to initial reports, the gunmen boarded the bus and shot Malayao twice while he was asleep. He was killed on the spot. 

Malayao participated in the formal peace talks between the NDFP and the GRP. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of SELDA- Northern Luzon, and the current Vice President of Makabayan Coalition. He was also among the more than 600 individuals falsely implicated in the proscription petition of the Department of Justice in February 2018.

“We lay the blame of these killings to the Duterte government, which has unceasingly threatened human rights and peace advocates and incite the commission of these dastardly crimes against them and their communities. The victims have been repeatedly harassed prior to their deaths, and they were no doubt targeted because of their advocacies on people’s rights and for just and lasting peace. Extrajudicial killings executed by riding-in-tandem assailants have been prevalent during the Arroyo regime, but have also been seamlessly adopted and have been escalated by Duterte and his band of murderers. We demand justice for Atay, Malayao, and all the victims of rights violations under this murderous regime,” said Palabay.

The Karapatan leader also mentioned the case of an Anakpawis member in Mexico, Pampanga, who was also brutally killed on October 17, 2018. Cesar Carreon, 41, was abducted by eight armed men inside his residence in Brgy. Laug, Mexico, Pampanga. Gemma, the victim’s wife, then reported the incident to the barangay hall and filed a blotter report. On October 19, Gemma was informed that a cadaver was found in Candaba, Pampanga. She went to the police station to identify if it was her husband. Gemma saw Cesar’s face, which the police described was wrapped with packaging tape; Cesar's hands were tied behind his back, his feet and neck were tied with wire and plastic straw. The police also described that when the packaging tape was removed, Cesar's mouth was filled with cloth. The victim was shot on the right side of his forehead and on his lower back. Cesar was brought to a funeral parlor in Bulacan. He is survived by eight children.

“These killings are unconscionable. We have lost good, selfless men who never thought twice about service to the Filipino people, about uplifting the lives of the marginalized, of changing the political and economic system that have led to the crisis and poverty of the Filipino people. We salute their courage as we vehemently condemn the cowardice of this regime. Along with the victims’ families, advocates, organizations, and the Filipino people, we will hold accountable the Duterte regime on its lengthy list of crimes. The lives of Atay, Malayao, and Carreon, and other victims of Duterte, will not be in vain. As we condole with the families of the victims, we raise our banners high and loudly repeat our call for justice,” she concluded. 

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, +639173162831 

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580