Various groups commemorate 2nd year anniversary of the New Bataan 5 killings

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This article is available in Pilipino

Groups of youth, national minorities and human rights defenders commemorated the second anniversary of the military killing of two Lumad teachers Chad Booc and Jurain Ngujo, development worker Elegyn Balonga, and their two drivers Tirso Añar and Robert Aragon. Known as the New Bataan 5, they were captured, mercilessly killed and misrepresented as Red fighters killed in an encounter in New Bataan, Compostela Valley (now Davao de Oro) on February 24, 2022.

In Davao City, youth groups and their supporters launched a protest and lit candles at Freedom Park to call for justice for the victims of the New Bataan massacre.

“For two years, the military butchers have been playing deaf and blind over their crime in the New Bataan 5 massacre,” said Beverly Gofredo, Anakbayan Southern Mindanao Region spokesperson. They honored the New Bataan 5 for their struggle for the rights of the Lumads for land and environment.

The youths said evidence gathered prove that the five were not killed in an encounter. Instead, they were brutally tortured before being hacked and shot by fascist soldiers.

According to Gofredo, what the New Bataan 5 suffered is not an “isolated case”, especially since Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 70 forming the NTF-Elcac fascist machinery. This agency continues to exist and under the current Marcos regime, attacks against activists, unionists, journalists, human rights defenders and others have worsened.

“The New Bataan 5 massacre is no different from the thousands of victims of human rights violations,” Gofredo said. The youth demanded the immediate dissolution of the NTF-Elcac and accountability of the Duterte and Marcos regimes for their grave human rights violations.

The Katribu group of national minorities also called for justice. They condemned the reactionary state and its agencies. They say the New Bataan 5 are not the only ones who have been denied justice but also other national minorities who are victims of state killings, such as the Lianga Massacre (2015), the Tumandok massacre in Panay (2020) and the Bloody Sunday and second massacre in Lianga that occurred in 2021.

“While the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) allows development projects on ancestral lands, as in the case of the Gened Dam in Apayao, Kaliwa Dam in Rizal and Quezon, and Jalaur Dam in Iloilo, it indiscriminately violates indigenous people’s rights …,” the group says.

The situation will be worsened further by the Marcos regime’s charter change, which will allow 100% ownership of land, including ancestral lands. This is the exact opposite of what Chad and Jurain fought for, and what the indigenous people continue to fight for, according to the group.

AB: Various groups commemorate 2nd year anniversary of the New Bataan 5 killings