Activist shot, wounded after anti-pork forum in Tagum City
TAGUM CITY, Philippines — A peasant organizer was shot and wounded by still unidentified gunmen on Monday afternoon after he attended the launching of the People’s Initiative Against Pork (PIAP).
Dexter Librando, the 31-year-old Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas organizer, was wounded in the nape and hip, and is now recuperating in a local hospital. Militant groups condemned the attack and blamed government agents.
Renante Mantos, spokesperson of the Hugpong sa mga Mag-uuma sa Walog sa Compostela (Farmers’ Union in Compostela Valley), said Librando was driving his motorcycle along 3rd Avenue, Misa district here, when shot by one of two men on another motorcycle around 4:30 p.m. Monday.
Senior Police Officer 1 Brigido Lagula, Tagum police investigator, said bystanders immediately rushed the victim to the Tagum Doctors’ Hospital, while the gunmen fled in an unknown direction.
“He is a peasant organizer in Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley and has a large role in seeking justice for victims of alleged abuses by the military in civilian communities, particularly in the Kapalong municipality,” Mantos told Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone.
“He’s been getting threats and harassment for exposing alleged abuses by soldiers under the Army’s 10th Infantry Division.”
Major General Eduardo Año, 10th ID commander, denied allegations that the military had a hand in the shooting.
“We condemn this act also. Whoever the perpetrator was, he should be apprehended to answer the crime. Let the Philippine National Police conduct (an) investigation, but we shall assist (the police) if they will need it,” Año said by phone.
Librando was shot after the launching of the inter-provincial PIAP, a day-long activity attended by over 2,000 participants from the provinces of Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, sought to shore up support for a people’s initiative in passing a law in Congress banning all forms of pork barrel in government.
Mantos claimed Librando was the third victim of the government’s crackdown on leftist activists in Davao del Norte and Compostela Valley in recent years, and has been the only one to survive.
Mantos said farmers in the two provinces strongly condemned Librando’s shooting, as well as previous attacks on human rights defenders and peasant leaders.
“These only exposed the desperation of the government under the Aquino administration by attacking and killing civilians who could not fight back,” said Mantos, even as he lambasted the attacks as effects of the military’s Oplan Bayanihan counter-insurgency campaign.
Professor Aya Ragragio, spokesperson of Pagbabago-Southern Mindanao, said some of the participants of the launching monitored “suspicious-looking men in the forum who tailed Librando when he left the venue.”
Lagula, the police investigator, said authorities have been conducting a thorough investigation into the attack.
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