Central Visayas organizations go tree planting to remember Chad Booc, call for justice for New Bataan 5

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On the 30th birthday of Chad Booc, activist and volunteer teacher of the Lumad, relatives, friends and progressive organizations of Central Visayas held a tree planting activity in Barangay Talamban, Cebu City on April 17. They planted trees in symbolic remembrance of Booc’s struggle for the protection of the environment and ancestral land of the Lumads of Mindanao. The Booc family is from Cebu.

The 10th ID killed Booc and Gelejurain “Jurain” Ngujo II, fellow volunteer teachers, development worker Elegyn Balonga, and their two drivers, Tirso Añar and Robert Aragon, collectively known as the New Bataan 5 in New Bataan, Compostela Valley (now Davao de Oro) on February 24, 2022. They were captured and extrajudicially massacred by the US-Duterte regime soldiers.

In the investigation of the National Democratic Front-Southern Mindanao then, the military forces abducted and held five civilians on the night of February 23, 2022 and falsely claimed the next day thay they were New People’s Army members who were killed in an encounter. They were captured at a checkpoint just a few kilometers from the headquarters of the 66th IB in New Bataan.

The victims’ remains also clearly showed the severe torture they went through before being murdered. In the autopsy conducted by Dr. Raquel Fortun in March 2022, Booc’s body indicated a “clear intent” to kill. The doctor said the victim’s body was riddled with bullets.

Booc was honored the “Most Distinguished Awardee” by the Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC) at the 7th Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan in December 2022. CEC chose Booc because of his tireless defense of the rights of the Lumad people to their ancestral land and environment against harmful mining.

The progressive groups held a short program after the tree planting. “May the trees we planted in their memory serve as a living testimony and a symbol of our unwavering commitment to their ideals,” according to Karapatan-Central Visayas. The group added that it will continue to recognize the sacrifice and life that the New Bataan 5 gave by continuing their fight for justice and freedom.

AB: Central Visayas organizations go tree planting to remember Chad Booc, call for justice for New Bataan 5