Three of the four victims were from Mindanao and were killed in a span of one week.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – The year 2016 had started on a bloody note for activists, with no less than four extrajudicial killings this January.
The latest victim was peasant leader Christopher Matibay, 43, a leader of Typhoon Pablo survivor group Barug Katawhan, who was killed last Jan. 18. He was also a participant in the Manilakbayan last year.
Human rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region said that Matibay and his wife were sitting in a waiting shed in Lambajon village in Baganga, Davao Oriental at around 4 p.m. when a man on a motorcycle passed by and stopped nearby. Matibay identified the man as an intelligence officer codenamed “Mike” who had been tailing him. When his wife stood up to buy rice for their dinner, the man fired at Matibay, then sped away. Matibay sustained three gunshot wounds.
Matibay was a staunch typhoon survivor-turned-activist who was fundamental in raising the plight of Lumad farmers in Davao Oriental after Typhoon Pablo (international name Bopha) wreaked havoc in their community back in 2012.
The killings spree this month began last Jan. 9 when land reform beneficiary and peasant activist Benjie Sustento, 30, turned up dead a day after he was abducted in his home in Lopez Jaena village in Murcia, Negros Occidental. His body bore torture marks and has a gunshot wound in his face.
Two days later, another peasant activist, Ricky Peñaranda, chairman of the Fisherman Landless Association, was gunned down by motorcycle-riding men in Central village in Mati City, Davao Oriental.
Last Jan. 17, 15-year-old Lumad student Alibando Tingkas was also shot dead by alleged members of paramilitary group Alamara. Tingkas, who is the 29th child victim of extrajudicial killing, sustained two gunshot wounds in his chest.
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay referred to the killing of Tingkas as the “peak” of the military’s “monstrosity,” as she attributed the incident to President Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan.
Three of the four victims were from Mindanao and were killed only in a span of one week. Hanimay Suazo, Karapatan-SMR spokesperson, said this “shows that the Aquino regime is hell-bent on striking down leaders of progressive groups.”
“We demand justice, not only for Christopher, but for those who came before him and had asserted for the rights and welfare of Tyhoon Pablo survivors, whom the government had neglected and unjustly demonized as NPA supporters when they decried the lack of support for their plight,” said Suazo.