Another fair trade staff gunned down in Janiuay town, Iloilo province

Case:  Extrajudicial killing


  • Male, 57 years old, widower, farmer
  • Member of the Janiuay-Badiangan Farmers Association (JABAFA) and Katilingban sa Mangunguma sa Dabong (Kamada). Both organizations are affiliates of the Panay Fair Trade Center (PFTC). Kamada is an association of small farmers and a major producer of muscovado sugar sold at the fair trade market through the PFTC.
  • He was also a village councillor of Barangay Aquino-Nobleza West.

Place of Incident:    Barangay (village) Danao, Janiuay town, Iloilo province.

Date of Incident:    May 26, 2014, at 9:15 a.m.

Alleged Perpetrator(s): Suspected to be members of the paramilitary group Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) who are under the auspices of the Philippine Army of the Armed Forces of the Philippines

Account of the Incident:

In the morning of May 28, 2014, Dionisio Garete was on his way to deliver sugarcane to the muscovado mill of the Janiuay-Badiangan Farmers Association (Jabafa). Garete was driving his pick-up truck behind a Jabafa cargo truck driven by fellow farmer. The truck was loaded with newly-cut sugarcane.

When their convoy reached a sloping and winding road in Brgy. Danao, Janiuay, Garete’s vehicle was behind some 50 meters from the cargo truck. Eric Nonato, driver of the cargo truck, heard gunshots and the horn of Garete’s pickup blowing. Nonato stopped the truck sensing  Garete was in danger. Aware that the perpetrators may still be on site, Nonato and his companions waited for a few minutes  before rushing to help Garete.

Garete’s pick-up truck fell down a steep slope on the side of the road. He was found on the driver’s seat barely breathing but still alive.  He was bleeding from the injuries on his head and chest. It took Nonato and his companions a few minutes to rescue Garete from the ravine, and brought him to the Janiuay District Hospital.

Garete died on the way to the hospital from gunshot wounds in the head. Another bullet went through his chest, puncturing his lungs.

Dionisio Garete, 57, was a member of farmers’ groups Jabafa and Katilingban sa Mangunguma sa Dabong (Kamada), affiliate organizations of the Panay Fair Trade Center (PFTC). Kamada is an association of small farmers, and a major producer of muscovado sugar sold at the fair trade market through the PFTC.

On March 15, PFTC executive director and former political prisoner Romeo Capalla was gunned down at a public market in Oton town, Iloilo.

Last January 2014, Garete received a “warning” from a member of the Revolutionary Proletariat Army – Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB), allegedly for “being too active in the other side.” Another relative reported that suspected RPA-ABB members were tailing Garete.

The RPA-ABB is a paramilitary group under the auspices of the Philippine Army.

On May 29, Karapatan conducted a fact-finding mission on the killing of Garete. The Janiuay police officials expressed helplessness in dealing with the RPA-ABB. According to the police officials, there are some 80 charges against the RPA-ABB members in Janiuay. However, when the police arrest RPA-ABB members, they would get a call from Malacanang ordering their release.

Rosel Caololan, Jabafa chairperson, said that the killing of Capalla and Garete is part of the scheme to sow terror on their members and supporters, and an attempt to demolish their organization and the fair trade network.

Karapatan joins Garete’s family, colleagues, local human rights groups and sectoral organizations, in calling for justice for the killing of Dionisio Garete, and to end the terrorism and impunity perpetrated by the State-sponsored RPA-ABB. ###

UA Date:  June 4, 2014    

Recommended Action:

Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:

  1. Justice for the extrajudicial killing of Dionisio Garete;
  2. The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that will look into the extrajudicial killing of Dionisio Garete.
  3. The end to the policy of labelling and targeting  human rights defenders as “members of front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state.”
  4. The withdrawal of Oplan Bayanihan, the Philippine government’s counterinsurgency program that victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians.
  5. The Philippine Government to observe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all the major Human Rights instruments that it is a party and signatory to.
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H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III

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Manila Philippines

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Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles

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Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin

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