By Chito Chavez
Human rights group Karapatan has condemned the killing of human rights advocates in the country as it called for support on Iceland’s resolution on the Philippines.
The resolution tabled by Iceland expressed concern not only on reported cases on extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, but also on the cases of enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrest and detention, intimidation and persecution of or violence against members of civil society, human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, journalists, lawyers, members of the political opposition, and restrictions on the freedoms of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association.
“As another two human rights defenders were gunned down in Negros Oriental and Bukidnon, Karapatan renews its call on member-states of the United Nations Human Rights Council to support Iceland’s resolution on the present rights situation in the Philippines,” Christina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary-General said.
According to initial reports, on July 7, 2019, at 12:30 pm, 42-year-old Salvador “Bador” Romano, a resident of Brgy. Tupas in Manjuyod, Negros Oriental, was shot four times by two assailants while onboard his motorcycle.
The following day July 8, 2019, at around 7 am, in Cabanglasan, Bukidnon, Umayamnon Tribe’s Datu Mario Agsab was shot dead inside his home in Sitio Mainaga in Iba village by alleged members of the Alamara paramilitary group and the CAFGU of the 8th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army.
“Serving as community leaders and human rights defenders, the deaths of Romano, Agsab and the other victims of President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on rights defenders, activists, the poor, and the marginalized are truly lamentable. We continue condemning these relenting attacks being committed by the present regime against the Filipino people,” said Palabay.
Palabay said Romano and Agsab were both human rights defenders.
Karapatan noted Romano is an active member of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and the adviser of its youth committee.
He also served as a volunteer of Karapatan in Negros Oriental, while Agsab is an active leader of PIGYAYUNGA-AN Lumad Organization.
“These killings are believed to be initiated by either military or paramilitary elements. These are all proof that the rights situation in the Philippines is deteriorating, and that the repression intensifies, especially among poor communities and other organizations that advocate for genuine rights and societal reforms,” added Palabay.
Palabay insisted the human rights resolution has been long overdue. “Aside from the present abuses and crimes being committed by the state, the creeping dictatorship of the Duterte regime will worsen the rights situation in the country. There’s no other time to take action but now,” she concluded.