Romeo Capalla, 65, chairperson of the Board of Directors and former manager of Panay Fair Trade Center, was accompanying his mother-in-law at the Oton Public Market when fired upon by gunmen.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Another activist was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on March 15 in Iloilo City, Panay.
Romeo Capalla, 65, was in the Oton Publlic Market at around 6:30 p.m. when he was fired upon. He sustained two gunshot wounds in the head. He was declared dead on arrival at the Western Visayas Medical Center.
“Capalla was at the market to assist his mother-in-law when the gunmen shot at him, hitting the right side of his head near the temple. His left eye popped out because of the bullet. The Oton police said that aside from the gunmen, there were three others who fled from the market toward the town of San Miguel, Iloilo,” Karapatan said in its statement.
Capalla, chairperson of the Board of Directors and former manager of Panay Fair Trade Center, was the 11th activist killed in 2014.
“As early as February, Karapatan already sounded the alarm as the cases of killings started to rise. There were killings once a week, on the average. We see a comeback of Gloria Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya. The Aquino government is speeding up the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan to meet its internal deadline and offset its failure in the last three years,” Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said.
In December 2013, Karapatan documented 169 victims of extrajudicial killings, 825 illegal arrests, 13,528 victims of demolitions and 63,077 victims of threats and harassments.
Capalla was arrested on Aug. 3, 2005. He and Aklan councilor Fernando Baldomero were charged with arson.
But even after the dismissal of the case, Karapatan said, members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police did not stop harassing Capalla who was tagged as commander of the New People’s Army and was included in the order of battle of the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army in 2004.
Baldomero was killed five days after Aquino was sworn into the presidency in 2010.
“Who would have known that Baldomero’s co-accused, Romeo Capalla would become the 180th documented victim of extrajudicial killing. BS Aquino finished off what Arroyo started during the OBL (Oplan Bantay Laya),” Palabay said.
In a protest action in front of the Department of Justice on March 20, members of the National Council of Karapatan called on Aquino to either “shape up or ship out” in the light of the 11 activists killed in the first 10 weeks of 2014.
“If the Aquino government cannot control and stop its killing spree, BS Aquino, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, has no business staying in Malacañang,” Palabay said.
Members of Karapatan laid down effigies of corpses in front of the Department of Justice.
“The BS Aquino government stinks — with corpses of victims of rights violations and those who were victims of his criminal negligence during disasters. Families of victims cry out for justice but the Aquino regime knows nothing about justice,” Palabay said.