Karapatan Negros Oriental coordinator remembered by family and colleagues, 2 years after her killing

November 28, 2019 marks the second year after Karapatan’s Negros Oriental coordinator Elisa Badayos and peasant coordinator Eleuterio Moises were killed while on a factfinding mission in Bayawan, Negros Oriental. 

Karapatan echoes the call of the Badayos family for justice, yet likewise reminds the world of the profound contributions and courage of human rights defenders like Elisa. We remember and recognize her work in peasant communities, working tirelessly and beyond the spotlight to advocate for people's rights. It is through people like Elisa and Eleuterio, and the cause that they fought for, that organizations like Karapatan are dearly humbled and further engaged in the struggle for people's rights. 

Karapatan is one with the Badayos family in expressing their frustration on the absence of government efforts to pursue justice and accountability on the killing of Badayos and Moises. No independent investigation has been carried out by authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice. 

We likewise deplore the attacks against human rights workers of Karapatan and all Filipino human rights defenders in general. These attacks have become more brazen as government officials led by Pres. Duterte, along with his national task force borne out of Executive Order #70, have continued the stigmatization, demonization, judicial harassment and killings of rights defenders. Time and again, we repeat that human rights defense and activism is not a crime. Only dictatorial and militarist powers peddle this dangerous message. 

Three UN Special Rapporteurs, in a communication to the Philippine government, have expressed concern on Duterte’s statements, which “may lead to persons being incited to exercise violence against Karapatan and its members, who are already facing a severely hostile environment.” The independent experts further said: “We are concerned that such speech by the President undermines not only the work of civil society, but also the faith of civil society in State institutions and, thus, the quality and level of their participation in democracy.”

As a result of State policies that target human rights defenders and persecute them for their work, at least 12 human rights workers of Karapatan have been killed under Duterte, while Karapatan’s officers are subjected to trumped-up charges and threats. Our office in Bacolod City, Negros was raided, resulting in the arrest and detention of Proceso Quiatchon, a Karapatan paralegal. The former secretary general of our Southern Mindanao chapter, Honey Mae Suazo, remains missing since November 2, 2019. The NTF has relentlessly spewed lies against Karapatan within and outside the country, as a form of reprisal for our human rights work. 

Despite these attacks, we remain indignant on the killings, disappearance and arbitrary arrests of our colleagues. To Mr. Duterte and the NTF, we will not back down nor bow down to fascists and tyrants. We will never forget the long list of crimes that the Duterte administration and its sycophants have committed. We will hound those who have spawned murderous campaigns against the people, just as how we have untiringly filed cases and pursued accountability of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Ferdinand Marcos, Jovito Palparan, Hermogenes Esperon, Eduardo Ano and other butchers, even after their stint in government. Our best tribute to our slain colleagues is our strengthened commitment to promote, protect and advance people’s rights.