Human Rights Group Chair in Eastern Samar, Assassinated

By Johann Hein B. Arpon

A death squad in Eastern Samar claimed another victim with the brutal murder of Rodrigo Catayong, PhD., 55 years old, chairperson of KARAPATAN-Eastern Samar yesterday morning just in front of the McArthur, E. Samar Catholic church. He was on his way to church with his wife Marcela, 54 years old.

The 5-man liquidation team on board two motorcycles shot Catayong eight times at close range hitting him in the face, at the chest, neck, and back killing him instantly.

Dr. Catayong according to fellow human rights advocates was a “known peace-loving citizen, an advocate of human rights and civil liberties in the province of Eastern Samar.” He served as their KARAPATAN chairperson in the province since he was elected in 2001.

Around two months ago, a “liquidation list” containing the names of 31 personalities, including Dr. Catayong, was distributed all over the province. The said list was signed by a certain Ka Hector of the Samar-Leyte Anti-Communist Movement (SLACM). SLACM claimed that those in the list targeted for liquidation are members/sympathizers of the NPA (New People’s Army) and accused them of having “done sins against the people.” It said the order for liquidation was approved by the Committee Central ng Pilipinas Hukbong Tagahatol ng Bayan, Leysam Anti-Communist Movement.

It was during the visit of Cabinet Secretary Ricardo Saludo in Tacloban City that the “liquidation list” was divulged by Agustin Docena (a member of the Eastern Samar Coalition of NGOs and POs). Others in the list are the mayor of Borongan, one public grade school teacher, three (3) professors from the Eastern Samar State University including Dr. Catayong, several leaders of progressive party-lists, a policeman and a local media man. They were listed as members of the leftist groups such as Bayan Muna (People First), Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) and Gabriela.

Human rights and people’s organizations in the province said SLACM is the handiwork of and is connected to the Civil Relations Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (CRS-AFP). They noted that SLACM and the military have conducted joint rallies and activities in the region.

“Thus, culpability can be exacted from the hierarchy of the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, now headed by Major General Rodrigo Maclang who extends both administrative and operational control over the 8th CRS-AFP Civil Affairs Unit“,aid Alex Lagunzad, secretary-general of KARAPATAN-Eastern Visayas.

Mr. Lagunzad called on “on the all peace-loving Filipinos, Samarnons and people of Eastern Visayas to oppose and condemn the killing of Dr. Catayong and all other state-sponsored human rights violations.”

Dr. Catayong is the 90th victim of political killing in Eastern Visayas since Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed the presidency in 2001. (

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