Farewell to ‘God and People’s Servant’
Noel “Noli” Capulong,
51, is the 136th victim of politically-motivated assassinations in the
Southern Tagalog region to date. He was gunned down by bonnet-wearing men
riding in motorcycles while driving his owner-type jeepney in Parian
village just before dusk on May 27. Mourners ask: who would want to
silence a good man who consistently exposes and denounces environmental
degradation, human rights abuses, corruption and anti-people policies like
BY DENNIS ESPADA
Calamba City, Laguna (52 kms. south of
Manila) – Alongside prayers and bereavement, the bells of the United
Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) here tolled for yet another
slain church worker whose life – his kin, friends and colleagues say –
embody what it means to serve God by serving the people.
Noel “Noli” Capulong, 51, is the 136th
victim of politically-motivated assassinations in the Southern Tagalog
region to date.
Capulong was gunned down by bonnet-wearing
men riding in motorcycles while driving his owner-type jeepney in Parian
village just before dusk on May 27. He succumbed to four bullet wounds in
the jaw, chest and left side while he being rushed to the St. John
Hospital, also in Calamba.
He was then on his way home at barangay
(village) Poblacion Tres after he met with residents who are facing
eviction from a contested property in nearby Belarmino Subdivision.
Several days before, he was engaged in setting up a “botika ng bayan”
(people’s pharmacy) project under the auspices of Bayan Muna (People
First) Rep. Satur Ocampo to help indigents in Linga village.
An activist since the 1980s, Capulong was
the deputy secretary-general of Bayan Muna’s Southern Tagalog chapter,
secretariat staff of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic
Alliance) in Southern Tagalog and spokesperson for broad alliances such as
the Southern Tagalog Environmental Action Movement (StEAM) and the
Movement of Concerned Citizens for Civil Liberties (MCCCL).
Following the necrological service on May
31, his remains were brought for cremation to the Eternal Gardens Memorial
Park in Biñan town, escorted by hundreds of people who were chanting
slogans that demand justice.
Colleagues from militant groups said the
killing was carried out with such precision as it points to a brazen
pattern of murder similar to the fate of labor leader Diosdado Fortuna and
other slain activists. They denounced the
Philippine National Police (PNP)’s attempts to cover-up the real
perpetrators by hatching “baseless” speculations that the victim may have
been killed by his fellow comrades.
After forming a task force,
PNP Calabarzon Chief Gen. Prospero Noble has implicated Migrante-Southern
Tagalog member Charlie Garcia in the killing and then placed a P50,000
($(51.84 based on a $1:P52.53 exchange rate as of June 2) bounty on his
head. In a statement, Garcia denied the allegations.
“It’s an old and stale defense strategy of
the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP),” saidd Bayan-ST
secretary-general Arman Albarillo. “A desperate attempt to discredit
progressive people’s organizations and to deceive the people. Have they
conducted an investigation? No one (in the family) believes Gen. Noble’s
Capulong’s wife Doyet says her husband
never had personal enemies.
Slain In Sequence
As a former staff of the National Council
of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and as chair of UCCP-Calamba’s
Christian Witness and Service Committee at the time he was murdered,
Capulong was instrumental in promoting ecumenical work that led to the
formation of the Southern Tagalog Regional Ecumenical Council, the
Christian Movement for Good Government and the Kapatirang Simbahan para sa
Bayan (Kasimbayan or Church Fraternity for the People).
A high-ranking officer of the NCCP
strongly condemned the killing of their brethrens Capulong, Rev. Jemias
Tinambacan, Pastor Andy Pawikan and Jose Doton – all slaughtered within
the past three weeks in sequence.
is no place in this land for a government which claims adherence to
democracy yet tacitly approves the killing of those who stand for
principled and legitimate dissent, or worse, conveniently finds excuse by
pointing a finger at someone else,” says NCCP secretary-general Sharon
Rose Joy Ruiz-Duremdes in a statement. “Such is the behavior of a
government that is oppressive, repressive and concerned only with its own
political survival – an utter disgrace to the dignity of the people it
claims to serve.”
Mourners ask: who would want to silence a
good man who consistently exposes and denounces environmental degradation,
human rights abuses, corruption and anti-people policies like charter
PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION ■
© 2006 Bulatlat
Permission is granted to reprint or redistribute this article, provided
its author/s and Bulatlat are properly credited and notified.