KARAPATAN condemns the Palo, Leyte massacre and the spate of extra-judicial killings, says government is at war with its people
The human rights alliance KARAPATAN condemns the 5:00 AM massacre of farmer residents of Palo, Leyte perpetrated by elements of the 19th Infantry Batallion of the Philippine Army and the spate of extra-judicial killings that have surged once more since September of this year.
Ricardo "Ding" Uy, a broadcast journalist and chairperson of Bayan Muna in Sorsogon City was shot to death on November 18, 2005.
On November 19, Errol Raymund Sending, a member of the urban poor organization KADAMAY and Bayan Muna Pampanga was walking along Burgos Street in Angeles City when an assailant pumped five bullets into his body.
At dawn today, soldiers from the 19th IBPA led by Lt. Louie Dagoy opened fire on the farmers in a tent in San Agustin, Palo, Leyte, killing at least 5 people and wounding many others (as of 11:00 AM today). Wounded were: Ranilo Orseda, 42 years old, Ismael Rigato, 22, Cora Bernabe, 52, Richard Margallo, 30, Narlito Borra , 20, Mark Pansa, 23, Ramy Compio, 36, and Ferdinand Montejos.
In news reports, the soldiers are quoted as having said that there are armed groups among the farmers' group that set up the tent. This is being belied by the farmers.
Initial reports gathered by KARAPATAN reveals that farmers from the San Agustin Beneficiaries Association went on a "balik-uma" on November 20. After receiving a DAR order in favor of the farmer beneficiaries, 46 individuals, many of them representing the six (6) families that were awarded ownership of the land, set up a tent in the area.
Yesterday, Nov. 20, the couple who were abducted by the military in Nueva Ecija on October 26, were found dead. The remains of Danilo Suteña and Maribel Tablang were found inside separate sacks near a highway in San Jose City. Tablang was four months pregnant.
"To date, 128 individuals have been summarily executed since January, and our view is that the Macapagal-Arroyo government is waging a war against its people," said KARAPATAN Secretary General Marie Hilao-Enriquez.
The extra-judicial killings of civilians, among them activists, journalists, priests, lawyers, human rights defenders, judges, peasants and workers continue unabated and the perpertrators, mainly state security forces and paramilitary elements, go unpunished.
Enriquez said "the AFP is going after defenseless civilians in its bid to counter rebellion in the Philippines, now being packaged by the regime as counter-terrorism; and it is clearly being sanctioned by the Macapagal-Arroyo government."