factfinding mission in Negros shot; 2 dead, one wounded
November 29, 2017
QUEZON CITY – Three
members of the factfinding mission team were shot by unnamed men at
around 2:40 this afternoon at Brgy. San Ramon, Bayawan, Negros
Elisa Badayos, coordinator
Karapatan Negros Oriental and Eleuterio Moises, a barangay tanod and
member of local peasant organization Mantapi Ebwan Farmers
Association, were pronounced dead-on-arrival after having been
brought to a hospital in Bayawan. Carmen Matarlo, a 23-year-old
member of Kabataan Partylist-Cebu was also reportedly wounded.
The 30-member FFM team
were in the area to investigate and verify reported human rights
violations in the area.
“The attack on human
rights defenders are becoming more rampant, more brutal, more
fearless. The perpetrators know they will be dealt with impunity, as
human rights have lost force and meaning especially under this
regime. Fact-finding missions are a mechanism for human rights
organizations to confirm reports of abuses, and this incident has
only proven how fascism works to outrightly kill those who dare to
question,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.
Palabay added that “the
space for human rights defenders is fast shrinking, as the Duterte
regime is finding more and more ways to cripple defenders on the
ground who voice out the real situation experienced by marginalized
communities victimized by militarization, landgrabbing, and other
forms of repression and oppression.”
She cited the Negros
Oriental Provincial Ordinance no.5, s.2008, or known as “An
Ordinance Regulating Outreach Activities Through Medical and
Fact-Finding Missions in the Countryside of Negros Oriental and for
Other Purposes,” wherein non-government organizations and other
cause-based organizations are prohibited to conduct any humanitarian
mission in Negros Oriental without seeking permission from the
governor, municipal government and municipal police. Violators are
sanctioned with six months of imprisonment and a fine of P5,000 on
participants on the said mission.
The 30-member FFM team
arrived in the mission area in San Ramon, Bayawan on 11am. They were
blocked and harassed by elements of the mayor’s private goons. Armed
men inquired as to their whereabouts and the purpose of the mission.
They were eventually allowed to pass.
At around 2:30pm, while
the rest of the FFM team conducted the case documentation, a team
composed of Elisa Badayos, Patrick Torres, executive director of
Farmers Development Center-Cebu (FARDEC-CEBU), Elioterio Moises,
Angel Trocio, staff of Women’s Resource Center in the Visayas, and
Carmen Matarlo readied to leave to go to Nangka Barangay Hall,
Bayawan City for a courtesy call, and subsequently to the police
station to file a blotter report regarding the harassment incident
earlier. They went on two separate motorcycles – Patrick and Angel
were on board the first motorcycle while CJ and Elisa were on the
second vehicle driven by Elioterio. The two vehicles were on a
convoy, with the motorcycle boarded by Patrick and Angel in the
While on their way, they
were shot at by unnamed gunmen, suspected to be the same armed men
who blocked their entrance to the mission site. The shooting led to
the death of Moises and Badayos. Matarlo was brought to the Bayawan
District Hospital before being transferred to Dumaguete. As of this
writing, she is now in a stable condition.
Elisa Badayos is the wife
of former labor leader and desaparecidos Jimmy Badayos.
“We condemn in the
strongest terms this recent attack on human rights workers. Even as
human rights workers conducting factfinding missions in Batangas,
Negros, Mindanao and elsewhere are being subjected to attacks by
state forces, we will never relent in struggling alongside with the
Filipino people in contending against this murderous Duterte
regime,” Palabay concluded.