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Volume III,  Number 47              January 4 - 10, 2004            Quezon City, Philippines


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From season of giving to season of killing
Gov’t Troops Kill 2 Activists on Yuletide Season

The holiday season became a season of grief for the families of Romy Malabanan,42, and Susan Habac Aringo, 38, both members of militant party-list groups, after they were killed by men believed to be members of the military. 


Yuletide terror in Southern Tagalog

Malabanan, secretary general of the party-list Bayan Muna in Bay, Laguna, a province 50 kms south of Manila, was shot dead on Dec. 23 right in front of his house. 

His death brings to 38 the total number of Bayan Muna members killed since 2001. It also brings to 183 the total number of incidents of killing under the Arroyo administration, victimizing 271 individuals.

Last November 2003, a Municipal resolution calling for the removal of the military detachment in Brgy. Tranka, was unanimously passed by the Municipal Council. Malabanan was one of those who lobbied for the filing and approval of the resolution.  Townsfolk and colleagues of Malabanan suspect that this could be one of the reasons why his killers wanted him silenced.

Family members echoed this by saying that his death was due to his affiliations with militant organizations in the area. Before serving as secretary general for Bayan Muna, Malabanan chaired the provincial peasant organization Pagkakaisa ng Ugnayan ng mga Magbubukid sa Laguna (PUMALAG ) and was a member of the executive committee of another peasant organization, the Kalipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK).  He was also the executive assistant and close confidant of Bay Mayor Edwin Ramos.

Murder in Sorsogon

Aringo on the other hand was a widow with five children.  She worked in the field to be able to send her children to school. She was also the municipal coordinator of the Gabriela Women’s Party in Sorsogon. 

Aringo was killed in broad daylight on Dec. 7 by military men in Sitio Muladbukad, San Isidro Castilla town this province.

She was on her way to the fields when military men and paramilitary men shot her at the back.  They brought her to the town plaza where villagers milled around her and saw her still alive.  She was only brought to the hospital by two of her daughters who saw her covered in her own blood.  She made it to the hospital alive but died due to terrible loss of blood.

Aringo’s daughters said the military did not only take their mother’s life but also some of her belongings. Aringo lost her cellphone, money amounting to P4,000 and a necklace. 

Aringo was suspected as a member of the NPA, a military ploy used to justify the killings of activists and members of partylist organizations nationwide. 

Witness harassment

In another incident, Melvin Jocson, a witness to the Eden Marcellana-Eddie Gumanoy double murder case, was harassed by alleged military men from Dec. 25-27.

Jocson was with Marcellana and Gumanoy conducting an investigation of human rights violations in April last year when they were accosted by military men, leading to the deaths of the two activists. 

Jocson plays an important role in the case against the killers because he positively identified Master Sgt. Donald Caigas as the leader of the perpetrators.

Meanwhile, members of people’s organizations in Occidental Mindoro also reportedly suffered military harassment during the commemoration of the 55th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human rights on Dec. 10.

Around 50 soldiers belonging to the 16th Infantry Batallion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) under the 204th Brigade led by a Col. Mesa hounded some 76 persons participating in a forum at the town’s plaza. The military pierced the tires of the protestors’ jeepney and tried to confiscate the group’s camera. 

At around 9-10 p.m. the same day, members of the peasant group Samakami found a grenade at the back of their office.  The peasants immediately reported the incident to Mayor Gaudencio Espiritu and Col. Crusado of the PNP but their report was attended to only the following day.

The human rights group Karapatan documented a total of 762 cases of harassments under the Arroyo administration which affected 25,381 individuals, 649 families and 21 communities. Bulatlat.com

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