Karapatan scores AFP, Duterte gov’t for Masbate EJKs, calls for support for June 12 “Stop the Killings” rally


“It was a bloodbath,” thus said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, as they recently received reports on the extrajudicial killing of four farmers and two children on April 15 and 20, 2017 in Masbate province in line with military operations under Oplan Kapayapaan of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

On April 15, Masbate farmers Jerry Cuyos, 20, Josel Rosales, 30, and Rodolfo Tagalog Jr., 26, were killed in separate incidents by soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Battalion- Philippine Army, after their encounter with the New People’s Army in Brgy. San Carlos, Milagros town.

According to witnesses, soldiers beat up Cuyos, who was then on his way to his relatives in Brgy. San Antonio when accosted by the military. He was shot on his stomach after. Rosales was in Brgy. San Antonio, when soldiers fired at him and a child. He was instantly killed, while the child survived.

Tagalog was with his horse in a river in Sitio Laray, Brgy. San Carlos, when soldiers accosted him and tied him up using the rope from his horse. According to witnesses, soldiers took Tagalog with them. His wife Myrna started looking for him, after receiving reports from their neighbors. On April 18, Myrna found her husband in another sitio with the following description of his corpse: his right cheek was gone, his eyes were bloodied, there were wounds and bruises on his naked body where he may be tied with a rope or hit with a blunt object, there were gunshot wounds on his body.

On April 20, at around 5:30am, at least forty-two (42) soldiers from the 3rd Scout Ranger unit and 903rd Brigade of the Philippine Army fired at four (4) houses of farmers in Sitio Lubugan, Barangay Panan-awan, Kawayan, Masbate province. Seventy year old Lolita Pepito and her grandchildren Rechely Luna, 12, and Reden Luna, 9, were instantly killed, while at least two others were wounded. After the shooting, soldiers told the all occupants to drop on the ground and kicked them.

By 1pm, soldiers brought the bodies of Pepito and the two children, along with Rebecca Argawanon and her sons Daryl and Nonon, and Elvira Doña, 52, and her children Allie and Erwin Doña to the municipal office of Cawayan, where the Argawanons and Doñas were forced to do menial work for the police. They were only able to go home after three days, when barangay officials of Brgy. Panan-awan fetched them.

Karapatan said that from July 2016 to March 31, 2017, at least 47 peasants and indigenous peoples were killed in line with counter insurgency programs of the Duterte administration. “We strongly condemn these blatant violations, as we demand the immediate prosecution and arrest of soldiers and officials involved in the said killings,” Palabay said.

“With the climate of impunity fostered and made worse by the extrajudicial killings in line with the war on drugs, it is important that all sectors and individuals who uphold civil liberties and people’s rights come together to strongly protest all extrajudicial killings, all perpetrated by State security forces on June 12. Let us be one in the call and journey for justice of the relatives of victims, let us uphold people’s rights amid fascist attacks against the people,” said Palabay.

Karapatan is among the convenors and main organizers of the “Stop the Killings” rally slated on June 12, 2017, together with kin of victims of drug-related killings and of EJKs in line with counter-insurgency programs, and other faith-based and human rights organizations and advocates. In a press conference today, they called on the general public to join the said mass action to press Pres. Duterte to stop all EJKs. #