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Groups condemn slay of NDFP consultant

/ 05:38 AM January 31, 2019

Activists and human rights groups condemned the murder of former National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Randy Malayao on Wednesday, saying it was an example of the brutal persecution of dissidents under the Duterte administration.

Malayao, 49, was shot before dawn while asleep inside a Victory Liner bus at a pit stop in Aritao town, Nueva Vizcaya province, and died instantly. He was on his way home to San Pablo town in Isabela province.

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DOJ petition

Quoting witnesses, Chief Insp. Geovanni Cejes, Aritao police chief, said a man boarded the bus around 2:30 a.m., fired twice at the victim, and escaped on a motorcycle driven by another man.

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Malayao, who was also a columnist for Baguio City’s Northern Dispatch, was among the more than 600 alleged members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) who were included in the proscription petition filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in the Manila Regional Trial Court in February last year after President Duterte terminated the peace talks three months earlier.

The DOJ early this month withdrew nearly all of the names of people it had sought to declare as terrorists, including Malayao’s.

Malayao had no pending criminal cases for which most of the other NDFP consultants had been hounded and arrested by the police and the military, although he suffered torture and four years of detention in Cagayan Valley during the Arroyo administration before the courts cleared him of all charges.

His murder was a “a case of extrajudicial killing” by state forces, according to Bayan Muna secretary general Renato Reyes.

“His death comes after Duterte terminated the peace talks and vowed an all-out war against the CPP-NPA,” Reyes said. “We see no other motive and possible perpetrator.”

‘Death squads’

Human rights group Karapatan said those responsible for the “ruthless murder” were “the death squads of the Duterte regime, which has ceaselessly incited and ordered the killing of peace and human rights advocates and many others.”

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Salvador Pueblo of the NDFP-Cagayan Valley blamed the murder on “death squads” of the Army’s 5th Infantry Division (ID) based in the region.

But Maj. Jefferson Somera, 5th ID spokesperson, said pointing to the military “is an old tune” by the rebels and challenged the NDFP to identify the culprits and show evidence.

In his Jan. 20 Northern Dispatch column, Malayao urged the Duterte administration “to pursue peace, withdraw the proscription petition, stop the terror-listing and the clamping down of fundamental human rights and civil liberties.”

Malayao, who spent 33 years fighting for social justice while living with farmers and workers in Cagayan Valley, said the proscription petition “has already put us and the lives of our respective families at security risk and great emotional anxiety.”

Terror tag

“The terror tag has also cast aspersion upon our persons and besmirched our reputations,” he added.

His name was among those written in banners and leaflets scattered in public places in Cagayan Valley as one of the NPA members operating in urban areas in the region, according to Karapatan.

Edre Olalia, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers president, who had served as a legal consultant for the NDFP, said Malayao’s death “follow(ed) one thread: Get those who fight the oppressive and exploitative system and who work for fundamental change fast and quick.”

Malayao graduated with a fisheries degree from UP Visayas-Miagao where he was the editor of the college paper Ang Mangingisda. He was also one of the founders of the Beta Sigma fraternity in that school.

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines denounced the killing and demanded justice “for the abominable murder.”

In a statement, Beta Sigma strongly condemned the attack on Malayao.

“The heinous crime was committed by treacherous, brutal and cowardly assassins,” the fraternity said. “The executioners ended the life of a man who sought nothing more than peace and development for the Philippines.”

‘Sharp, witty, funny’

Fides Lim, wife of detaind NDFP consultant Vic Ladlad, said Malayao was the NDFP’s youngest consultant who was “sharp, witty, funny” and a “gentle brown giant” who towered above other rebel peace negotiators.

She said Malayao would not have liked the way he was killed, sleeping.

“He would have wanted to look his killer straight in the eye. But that is the way of cowards who steal lives and don’t like argument,” she said on Facebook.

“The QC court trying the manufactured case of planted firearms filed against Vic and the Villamor couple (who were arrested with Ladlad) is looking for proof of political persecution. Randy Malayao’s murder is more than proof enough,” she said. “Political persecution has leaped from planting firearms to pulling the trigger.” —Reports from Krixia Subingsubing, Kimberlie Quitasol, Villamor Visaya Jr. and Inquirer Research

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