25 activists so far killed in Southern Mindanao under Aquino – Karapatan

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President Benigno Aquino III, left. AP FILE PHOTO

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The human rights group Karapatan (Right) released the names of 25 people, most of them political activists and three of them children, killed in Southern Mindanao since President Aquino assumed power.

The group has released the list in anticipation of the country’s observance of the International Human Rights Day on Tuesday (Dec. 10).

Of the 25 people, seven were killed this year, including eight-year-old Roque Antivo of Laak, Compostela Valley.

Antivo’s family filed a case against officers of the military’s 71st Infantry Battalion but the case was dismissed at the prosecution level last September.

Hanimay Suazo, Karapatan spokesperson for Southern Mindanao, said the seven victims of extrajudicial killings this year brought to 25 the total number of persons, most of them political activists and three of them children, killed since President Aquino assumed power.

Antivo was on his way home at past 6 p.m. last April 3, with his brother and father in a remote farm in Laak, Compostela Valley, when soldiers belonging to the 71st IB allegedly opened fire on them. A bullet hit him in the chest. Antivo’s father said he had asked the two children (Roque and his older brother Earl John) to walk ahead of him while he was starting his motorcycle.  He told them to meet him up the slope.  Moments later, the father heard gunfire and when he rushed to his boys, he saw the younger boy wounded, and a few feet from them, he saw the soldiers.

The 71st IB, however, denied shooting the boy, saying they were having a shootout with communist New People’s Army rebels.  Later, Compostela Valley Provincial Prosecutor Graciano Arafol, Jr. released a resolution, dismissing the family’s complaints against Lt. Col. Jerry Borjal, commanding officer of the71st IB, and Lt. Felipe Llorca.

Karapatan released the names of slain victims of extrajudicial killings to show how justice has remained elusive and impunity has continued to reign even under the administration of President Aquino.

On the Karapatan’s list of slain victims this year were barangay councilwoman Cristina Jose, who survived the December 4, typhoon Pablo that ravaged Baganga in Davao Oriental the previous year but did not survive the gunman’s bullet on March 4, shortly after she went home after leading a protest action in Davao City; Junie Egkil, a peasant leader in Manay, Davao Oriental, killed on March 23; Eddie Canon, killed in Mawab Compostela Valley on May 25 this year; and Benjie Planos, Manhiloy Magtud and Gabriel Alindao, all of Loreto, Agusan del Sur, killed only weeks from each other.

Aside from the extrajudicial killings, the group also listed down a total of 223 human rights violations in the region, including enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and threats and intimidation of whole communities.

The Karapatan reported 15 cases of attacks on or use of schools, medical, religious and other public places for military purposes, affecting 97,585 individuals, including 40,757 children.

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