By Abner Bolos
Oct. 16, 2005
TARLAC CITY- The secretary general of Bayan Muna party-list in Tarlac province was shot dead by still unidentified men yesterday morning, Oct. 15, in his home in Barangay (village) Tuec, Camiling, Tarlac.
The victim, Florante Collantes, 51, was the 13th activist to be killed in the province since Nov. 16 last year – the day seven striking cane workers were killed in a massacre at their picketline in Hacienda Luisita, some 130 kms north of Manila.
His wife, Delia Collantes, said two men on board a motorcyle stopped in front of their retail store along the Romulo Highway at about 11 a.m. appearing to buy cigarettes when one of them fired a single shot that killed the victim. Collantes was tending the store when he was shot.
Dr. Saturnino Ferrer, a government doctor who conducted the autopsy, said a single bullet entered the base of the victim’s skull near his left nape and exited through his right cheek. Collantes died on the spot.
Pol Viuya, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Tarlac secretary general said “only the military is to blame for the killing.” Collantes was elected Bayan Muna (people first) provincial secretary general in 2001.
Viuya said Collantes is also the 13th victim in a string of killings of members of cause-oriented organizations in Central Luzon since Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan took command of the 7th Infantry Division which covers the region less than two months ago. Palparan’s confirmation on his promotion to major general has been on hold at the Commission on Appointments pending investigation of alleged human rights violations.
The victim’s wife said she recognized the assassin, a burly man wearing a dark jacket who, three days before the shooting, stopped by the store also on board a motorcyle to buy cigarettes. She said she and her husband, who were both in the store that morning, surmised any killer would do the same thing.
She said two former military men whom she knew are residents of nearby barangays, drove past their house on several occasions before the shooting apparently to case the victim. She said the men, using different types of vehicles, “drove slowly and cast hard looks on the house.”
Leaders of Bayan Muna, a progressive party list that topped the party-list elections in 2001 and 2004, have been the target of assassination allegedly by government-organized death squads. (Bulatlat.com)