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Groups denounce killing of Moro human rights defender

Human Rights group Karapatan and Kawagib Moro Human Rights Alliance held an indignation protest Tuesday, September 25, at the Timog Circle in Quezon City against the recent killing of a Moro human rights worker in Mindanao.

Mariam Uy Acob, 43 years old and paralegal of Kawagib, was gunned down by suspected military agents last September 23 in Brgy. Dapiawan, Datu Saudi Ampatuan in Maguindanao. She was shot several times in her chest, stomach, shoulder and back.

Acob was a staunch critic of militarization in Moro communities. She consistently denounced the aerial bombardment and encampment in Moro communities by the 40th IB of the 6th ID of the Philippine Army.

In 2015 she led her community in a protest against militarization in Saudi Ampatuan as well as other parts of District 2 in Maguindanao.

Karapatan condemned the recent spate of attacks against human rights defenders under martial law in Mindanao. The killing of Acob is another blood on the Duterte regime, Karapatan added.

The killing of Acob came after seven young men were massacred after harvesting fruits in Sitio Bato, Brgy. Kabuntakas in Patikul, Sulu. The 55th IB accused the civilians as members of Abu Sayyaf.

“Martial law has not solved anything but has merely increased the power of an abusive institution that is behind these attacks against the Filipino people,” Karapatan said. (Video and report by Joseph Cuevas)

Gunmen kill Cebu human rights worker in broad daylight

A Cebu City human rights worker who was organizing families of victims of the government’s so-called war on drugs was himself killed in a brazen daytime attack on board a jeepney Wednesday, August 8.

Human rights defender and Rise Up-Cebu volunteer Butch Rosales, 45, was shot in broad daylight was on his way to Mandaue, Punta Engaño, Lapu-Lapu City.

He boarded a multicab jeepney and sat at the front passenger seat while the assailant sat at the back.

The gunman shot Rosales at the head several times and took off on a waiting getaway motorcycle driven by another man. The unidentified perpetrators did not bother to wear masks.

A veteran activist, Rosales worked as an urban poor and labor organizer before he became a volunteer of Rise Up for Life and for Rights.

Rise Up is a network of volunteers and rights defenders committed to work in the defense of life and protection of human rights against drug-related extrajudicial killings and violations under the Rodrigo Duterte government.

Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights condemned Rosales’ killing, blaming the culture of impunity under the Duterte government for the widespread killing of suspected drug users as well as human rights defenders.

“With the rising number of killings conducted with impunity in Cebu, Rosales was killed in the same manner that suspected drug users have been killed in the conduct of the Duterte regime’s drug war, Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said in a statement.

“This case reveals the brazenness of perpetrators – a result of the assurances given by the regime to these killers and the prevailing impunity that lingers after the killings,” Palabay noted.

Fellow activist Dyan Gumanao of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – Cebu said Rosales was “cool and kind” who always asked how his colleagues and friends were doing.

“He was like an elder brother to me. He makes it a point to share with us his experiences in organizing urban poor communities,” Gumano said.

Rosales’ former colleague Yoyong Suarez said his long-time friend was always in the frontline defending urban poor communities against demolition and development aggression in Cebu.

“In the Philippines, individuals who assert their right to live will [themselves] be deprived of their right to life,” Suarez said.

“The Duterte regime’s witch-hunt against government critics and the continuing culture of impunity are blatant rights violation against the people. Justice for Butch Rosales and all victims of Duterte’s war against the poor!,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Soldiers’ kill mother, injure daughter in Agusan ambush

A week before the start of the new school year, a mother and daughter who just bought school supplies were ambushed by suspected elements of the Philippine Army (PA), killing her and injuring the child.

Gunmen, suspected to be members of the PA’s 25th Infantry Battallion operating in Agusan del Sur and Compostela Valley provinces, gunned down Beverly Geronimo, 27, who sustained seven wounds, killing her instantly in Barangay Salvacion, Trento, Agusan del Sur at about noontime Sunday, May 26.

Her eight-year old daughter, an incoming Grade 3 student of the Lumad school Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc. (MISFI), was wounded on her arm.

Geronimo was an active member of the Tabing Guangan Farmers Association (TAGUAFA) and the Parents-Teachers’ Community Association of the MISFI.

The victims as well as two other relatives were on board a motorcycle and on their way home from the town center after buying school supplies for the incoming school year next week.

Two gunmen in civilian clothes stopped them and fired at them, an urgent alert from the Save Our Schools (SOS) Network said.

Since 2009, Geronimo had been harassed, intimidated and coerced by Philippine Army soldiers for her opposition to large scale mining activities by OZ Metals and Agusan Petroleum, SOS said.

MISFI is a network of Lumad Schools suffering attacks from the military that accused them of being symphatetic to the New People’s Army.

Barug Katungod, an alliance of human rights workers in Mindanao, said that as of February 2018, five Lumad have been victims of extra-judicial killings in Mindanao, two coming from Agusan Del Sur.

A total of nine battalions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are deployed in the Northeastern Mindanao Region.

Due to intense military operations and aerial strikes, about 3,247 individuals have been forced to evacuate, Barug Katungod added.

In Manila, Amihan or the National Federation of Peasant Women, condemned the brutal killing.

Quoting Karapatan data, Amihan said that of the 125 farmer victims of extrajudicial killings under the Rodrigo Duterte government, Geronimo became the 21st peasant women victim.

Five children, five elderly and five farmer couples were included in the list, Amihan added.

The PA has yet to issue a statement about the ambush.# (Raymund B. Villanueva)