Farmer shot dead in ComVal; military agents blamed
TAGUM CITY – Another farmer was shot dead in Compostela Valley over the weekend amid calls for the pullout of government troops accused of attacking peasants and activists in Southern Mindanao, rights activists on Sunday said.
Bernardo Calan Ripdos died of multiple gunshot wounds after being attacked by five gunmen at his residence in Sangab village, in Maco town at around 6 a.m. Saturday, said Jay Apiag, spokesperson of Karapatan Southern Mindanao.
Apiag has accused elements of the Army’s 71st and 46th Infantry Battalions — Army units that operate in the boundaries of Maco and Mawab towns — of being behind the murder of the 66-year old Ripdos.
Ripdos, according to the Karapatan regional spokesperson, was a member of the Hugpong sa mga Mag-uuma sa Walog sa Compostela (Federation of Farmers in Compostela Valley or Humawac).
“He was an active peasant activist. He had joined several peasant mobilizations to demand free land distribution and the struggle for genuine land reform,” Apiag said, adding the victim “had been a staunch critic of the intensifying combat operations in various peasant communities resulting in grave rights violations.”
Karapatan has accused top military officials of attempting to undermine the continuing peace talks between the Philippine government and the communists with the military’s refusal to suspend operations and pull soldiers out from communities “despite overwhelming clamor of peasants and national minorities.”
“They kill peasants and indigenous peoples, drop bombs and encamp on their communities, and arrest and detain them. How fascist and anti-poor can you get?” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general.
The rights group said Ripdos was the 24th victim of political killings in Southern Mindanao alone in the nine months of the Duterte administration.
Last Thursday night, suspected Army hit men also shot dead 60-year old Elias Pureza, a member of a farmers’ association in San Isidro town, in Davao del Norte.
Karapatan blamed the Army’s 60th Infantry Battalion for Pureza’s murder, but military officials denied the allegations and called on the rights group to file charges before a local court. SFM/rga
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