5 farmers, lumads killed in 30 days

Attacks against IPs and farmers intensified during the Aquino administration, In Bukidnon, over 5,000 drought-affected farmers in Bukidnon staged a protest early this year to press the government to release the calamity fund for them. | Mak Segundo / RMP-NMR
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The human rights group Karapatan Southern Mindanao reported the death of at least seven farmers and lumads in Southern Mindanao in the past 30 days.

The deaths, the group said, were “politically related as families and witnesses said the victims were constant targets of the state agents’ red-baiting and surveillance.”

The group called on President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to investigate and hold the military and outgoing President Benigno Aquino III accountable for the murders.

Killed were:

Maria Myrna Cayag, chairperson of Monkayao Farmers Association (Mofa) and board member of Binulig Cooperative. She was shot by suspected state agents on May 7 and went into comatose for a month until she died on June 9 in the hospital.

Before she was attacked, soldiers from the 25th Infantry Battalion told her to surrender, saying she was included in the military’s Order of Battle list.

Datu Julio Laracio, 50, a tribal chieftain of Sitio Kisapwac, Barangay Digongan, Kitaotao, Bukidnon was killed June 15. Karapatan said there are witnesses who pointed at the assassin as an officer of the military’s 68th IB.

Johnny Basilisco of Loreto, Agusan del Sur was shot dead June 6 in Brgy. Sabud-Mansanitas. Karapatan said the suspect is a member of the militia group Cafgu who is also an official of the village. The victim’s finger was also chopped off.

Paul Saludaga was killed May 21 in Laak, Compostela Valley. Karapatan quoted witnesses as saying that the suspect was an intelligence operative of the military. Hours before he was attacked, the suspect went searching for Saludaga and accused him of being a member of the New People’s Army.

Marjun Baruer, of San Isidro, Davao del Norte, was shot dead in front of a sari-sari store in his village.

The group also reported the death of two members of the New People’s Army. Elenita Garing, 48, and Will Biliran alyas Ka Joel, were members of the NPA who were captured in Lumiad, Paquibato on June 9 during an encounter with soldiers. A day after, their dead bodies were found in Paquibao. The family of Garing believes that she was also raped by her captors.

“Karapatan points out that the Aquino administration’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan has only set out to exterminate farmers and lumads,” the group said.

 The group urges the new Duterte administration to investigate this matter, and bring Aquino pay for his accountability on extrajudicial killings against farmers and lumads. 

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