Fisherfolk leader and his neighbor shot dead by suspected security forces in Calatagan, Batangas, Southern Tagalog, Philippines

Account of Incident:

On February 8, 2009, The Karapatan National Officer received reports that a leader of a fisher folk organization was gunned down on February 7 (Saturday) at around 6:30AM.

Wilfredo Gonzales, current president of Haligi ng mga BatangueƱong Anak Dagat (Pillar of the Sons of the Sea in Batangas or HABAGAT), was driving an an ELF-truck along Bukal Village in Calatagan, Batangas when he and his neighbor and passenger Noli De Castro were shot.

Gonzales was reportedly on his way to fetch a nun in a nearby village when he, together with De Castro, was blocked on the road by two (2) motorcycle-riding assailants on a motorcycle and whose faces were covered with ski-masks and fired upon the victims. Gonzales and De Castro died on the spot due to multiple gunshot wounds.

His colleagues believe that the killing of Wilfredo is related to the land dispute in Calatagan where he used to be town councilor. This dispute involves more than 2,000 hectares of land in 10 coastal villages in Hacienda Zobel that remain undistributed to farmers and fishermen.

For over a year, Gonzales has been receiving death threats through SMS (short message system) on his mobile phone from alleged police elements because of his very active involvement in the protest actions staged by HABAGAT and PAMALAKAYA related to the land dispute.###