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Members of 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 Oriental.

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.

Elisa Badayos

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 front.

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.

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