Karapatan condemns killing of human rights advocates, calls for support on Iceland’s reso on the Philippines

“As another two human rights defenders were gunned down in Negros Oriental and Bukidnon, Karapatan renews its call on member-states of the United Nations Human Rights Council to support Iceland’s resolution on the present rights situation in the Philippines,” Christina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary-General said.

According to initial reports, on July 7, 2019 at 12:30 pm, 42-year-old Salvador “Bador” Romano, a resident of Brgy. Tupas in Manjuyod, Negros Oriental, was shot four times by two assailants while onboard his motorcycle. Meanwhile, on July 8, 2019 at around 7 am, in Cabanglasan, Bukidnon, Umayamnon Tribe’s Datu Mario Agsab was shot to death inside his home in Sitio Mainaga in Iba village by members of the Alamara paramilitary group and the CAFGU of the 8th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army.

“Serving as community leaders and human rights defenders, the deaths of Romano, Agsab and the other victims of President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on rights defenders, activists, the poor, and the marginalized are truly lamentable. We continue condemning these relenting attacks being committed by the present regime against the Filipino people,” said Palabay.

Romano and Agsab are both human rights defenders. Romano is an active member of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and the adviser of its youth committee. He also served as volunteer of Karapatan in Negros Oriental, while Agsab is active leader of PIGYAYUNGA-AN Lumad Organization.

“These killings are believed to be initiated by either military or paramilitary elements. These are all proof that the rights situation in the Philippines is deteriorating, and that the repression intensifies, especially among poor communities and other organizations that advocate for genuine rights and societal reforms,” added Palabay.

According to the Karapatan official, the human rights resolution has been long overdue: “Aside from the present abuses and crimes being committed by the state, the creeping dictatorship of the Duterte regime will worsen the rights situation in the country. There’s no other time to take action but now.”

The resolution tabled by Iceland expressed concern not only on reported cases on extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, but also on the cases of enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrest and detention, intimidation and persecution of or violence against members of civil society, human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, journalists, lawyers, members of the political opposition, and restrictions on the freedoms of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association.