8 killings in 7 days
In just a week, eight activists and peasants were killed by armed state elements. Civilians were also subjected to various incidents of harassment and intimidation across the country.
Two staff members of Karapatan-Sorsogon were shot-dead in the morning of June 14. Ryan Hubilla and Nelly Bagasala, 69, were aboard a tricycle when they were fired upon by two assailants at Phase 2, Seabreeze Homes Subdivision, Barangay Cabid-an, Sorsogon City.
Bagasala served as a human rights defender for several decades. She was subjected to relentless vilification and Red-tagging by the military. Hubilla and Bagasala were also subjected to surveillance and harassment in the past months.
On the next day, Nephtali Morada, former campaign officer of Bayan-Bicol was gunned down in Barangay San Isidro, Naga City.
In San Fernando, Masbate, farmers Arnie Espinilla and Sando Alcovindaz were successively killed on June 9 and 10 in Barangay Liong and Buenavista, respectively. They were killed by the group of Sgt. Chalas, official of the Peace and Development Team of the 2nd IB operating in the barrios of Talisay, Altavista, Buenavista, Canelas, Del Rosario and Progreso. The victims were tagged as members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
On June 14 in the evening, soldiers trooped to the residence of Pizo Cabug and then gunned him down. Cabug was a member of the Masbate People’s Organization.
Amid successive killings of human rights defenders in Bicol and other parts of the country, around 6,000 individuals protested in Naga City. The mobilization was dubbed “Kilos Bikolano laban sa Tiraniya” (Bicolanos Fight Against Tyranny). Karapatan members also protested in front of the Department of National Defense headquarters in Quezon City on June 17.
In Bukidnon, state elements gunned down Nonoy Palma in front of his house at Sitio Malambago, Barangay Halapitan, San Fernando, on June 16. Palma was a member of KASAMA, provincial chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. One of the three assailats was identified as a member of the Alamara paramilitary group.
Meanwhile, Felipe Dacaldacal, member of the National Federation of Sugar Workers was gunned down in the evening of June 9 at Sitio Dita, Barangay Pinapugasan, Escalante City, Negros Occidental.
Killing of a person hors de combat
Edwin “Ka Dupax” Dematera, commander of NPA-Sorsogon was killed hors de combat by the 31st IB on June 12. He was gunned down after being beaten up outside his house in Barangay Incarizan, Magallanes, Sorsogon. Dematera was temporarily confined in the area due to a swollen foot.
After killing Dematera, the soldiers ransacked his house and seized the belongings of his relatives’ visitors. Jemuel Non Saturay was also illegally arrested and brought to Camp Escudero in Sorsogon City. He was accused of being a member of the NPA and was made to appear to be in possession of a .38 caliber pistol.
The 31st IB is led by Lt. Col. Randy N. Espino and is based in Barangay Rangas, Juban, Sorsogon. The battalion was deployed in Camarines Norte in the 1990s. They were transferred to Sorsogon in 2011 and are still operating in the province at present.
Ang Bayan reports indicate that the 31st IB has perpetrated 18 killings since 2014. The battalion is also notorious for illegal arrests, theft, and illegal search of civilian residences. The battalion also perpetrated a number of hors de combat killings.
Among its starkest crimes is the indiscriminate strafing of the Garduque residence on May 2014 in Matnog, Sorsogon. Couple Elias and Cynthia were accused as members of the NPA.
Elias was killed during the incident, while his wife and one-year old baby were wounded. The soldiers left the mother and baby to bleed for nine hours and prevented villagefolk from rescuing them.
The butcher battalion is also responsible for the killing of Teodoro “Tay Tudoy” Escanilla, 63, spokesperson of Karapatan-Sorsogon, in August 2015. He was gunned down in his house in Barangay Tagdon, Barcelona sa Sorsogon.