Peasant leader Edgardo Lopez of the Bicol Coconut Planters Association is the 50th victim of extrajudicial killing in the region alone under President Aquino.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — “An Army soldier shot me,” Edgardo Lopez, 40, told witnesses after he was shot by a man wearing a cap and riding a motorcycle at around 5 a.m., today, July 11, in Albay.
Lopez, who was president of the Bicol Coconut Planters Association Inc. in Albay, apparently identified his killers as military men. Karapatan-Bicol suspects that the assailants belong to the 901st Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army.
Lopez was delivering bread to a store in Mayon village, Daraga when a man riding a motorcycle without a plate number fired at him. He sustained six gunshot wounds. He died at the Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital at around 10 a.m.
In an interview with Bulatlat.com, Vince Casilihan of Karapatan-Bicol said Lopez was very active in the fight of coconut farmers for the multi-million coco levy fund.
Casilihan added that Lopez is the 50th victim of extrajudicial killing in their region alone under President Aquino.
Before he was killed, Lopez had been harassed by the military. Casilihan said soldiers had gone to Lopez’ home and branded him as a collector for the New People’s Army (NPA). They also threatened him to stop joining protest actions. In April, several soldiers surrounded Lopez’s home, claiming to be looking for NPA guerrillas. The soldiers said they could have killed Lopez along with the rebels if they found them there.
Bicol region has the highest number of extrajudicial killings both under then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and now under Aquino.
“This is part of Oplan Bayanihan. They want to sow fear among the people and keep them from joining protest actions such as the upcoming Lakbayan in time for Aquino’s State of the the Nation Address,” Casilihan told Bulatlat.com.
Karapatan documented more than 200 extrajudicial killings under Aquino as of June 2014.