Duterte’s Mindanao a red spot on rights group’s map
DAVAO CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte’s home region, southern Mindanao, had the most political killings linked to state agents in all of Mindanao in 2017, according to a human rights group.
Ryan Amper, spokesperson of Barug Katungod Mindanao, could not say how many activists had been killed in 2017 in the region, composed of four Davao provinces and Compostela Valley, but claimed that 59 farmers and activists had been killed since Mr. Duterte came to power in June 2016.
In an interview, Amper said the killings worsened when the President placed Mindanao under martial law, which led to the arrest of dozens of people tagged as communist rebels.
Worse, Amper said, the government had targeted innocent farmers and “lumad” in its counterinsurgency campaign.
Most of the military attacks on lumad and farming communities, said Amper, took place in Compostela Valley. These included “wanton bombings.”
The military denied involvement in such killings. According to the Army’s 10th Infantry Division, soldiers only targeted “lawless elements that spoil peace and development.”
But human rights workers listed the following as victims of the military crackdown on suspected communist rebels:
Jeannie Rose Porras, a member of the Compostela Farmers’ Association (CFA) who went missing on Dec. 14 and whose body was later found at a funeral home in Nabunturan, Compostela Valley.
Rodrigo Timoteo, another CFA member killed on Nov. 29 also in Compostela Valley.
The couple Ramon and Leonila Pesadilla, farmers killed in March in the same province
Jimmy Saypan, a former CFA leader, who was killed last year.
Jean Bustamante, a 17-year-old CFA member who went missing on Dec. 5 and was later found in a military camp.
Brothers Bernardo and Benjie Clarion who were abducted on Dec. 8 in Calinan District, Davao City; the body of Bernardo, listed by the police as a communist guerrilla, was found the next day in Calinan. —Allan Nawal and Frinston Lim
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