Three members of the factfinding mission (FFM) team were shot by unnamed men at around Tuesday afternoon at Brgy. San Ramon, Bayawan, Negros Oriental.
Elisa Badayos of Karapatan Central Visayas, wife of former labor leader and desaparecidos Jimmy Badayos, and Elioterio 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. Another 23-year-old Kabataan partylist member remains in critical condition.
The 30-member FFM team were in the area to investigate and verify reported human rights violations due to intensified military operations 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 outright 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.”
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.
A 30-member FFM team arrived in the mission area in San Ramon, Bayawan on 11 AM. 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 2:30 PM, Badayos, together with another FFM team member, and a member of a Cebu youth organization decided to go to the police station to file a blotter report regarding the harassment incident earlier. They were accompanied by Moises. While on their way to the police station, 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. The 23-year-old KPL member is set to be brought to a hospital in Dumaguete after sustaining gunshot wounds on her shoulder.
“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.
Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917 316 2831
Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918 979 0580
Photo of the members of the factfinding mission team for Negros Oriental by Aninaw Production