The soldiers strafed the victims when they failed to stop at checkpoints but according to the human-rights group Karapatan, the victims had difficulty stopping because, aside from the darkness, there were no signs or signals that a checkpoint was being conducted. The soldiers, Karapatan said, suddenly appeared from the roadside.
DAVAO CITY — Two civilians were killed and three others were wounded after soldiers allegedly strafed them at a checkpoint in New Bataan town, Compostela Valley province, the human-rights group Karapatan said today.
In a statement, Karapatan said the shooting occurred at the “surprise” checkpoints that the military had put up around the province. The group said the victims, who were on board motorcycles, did not notice the checkpoints along the road because there were no signs or signals. Soldiers, it said, just suddenly appeared from the roadside and, when the victims failed to stop immediately, allegedly fired at the victims.
The fatalities and the injuries occurred during two shooting incidents in the evening of April 25 at different checkpoints manned by elements of the 28th Infantry Battalion under 1001st Brigade of the army in Purok 3a and Purok 2, Poblacion in New Bataan, north of this city.
The victims were members of the United Farmers of Pagsalaan-Andap Farmers Association, an afficiliate of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, a nationwide association of peasants. The military has not issued a statement on the incident.
Kelly M. Delgado, secretary-general of Karapatan in Southern Mindanao, said the first shooting occurred in Purok 3a, at around 6 p.m. last Wednesday.
Warlito Villafuerte Jr., 17, and Monith Bugahod, 21, both residents of Pagsilaan, a village in New Bataan, were onboard a motorcycle on their way home from the town market when they heard somebody shout at them, telling them to stop, Delgado said.
However, Delgado said, “the two were not able to stop immediately because they did not see any signs and markings that a checkpoint was being conducted.” The soldiers, he said, then “outrightly” shot the two men. Bugahod was hit in the foot but, terrified that they were shot at, decided to proceed to their home, Delgado said.
At home, Bugahod’s mother, Auling, became frantic when she saw her son’s injury, Delgado said, and decided right there to bring him to the Monkayo Provincial Hospital in Compostela Valley. Her neighbors — Elias Mabundas, Warlito Villafuerte Sr., and Beato Suralta — accompanied them. They used the same passenger motorcycle the two first victims used; the motorcycle, also called in the hinterlands as a “Skylab,” had a piece of wood strapped on both sides, on which the passengers could sit.
It was around 8:30 in the evening, while they were at the crossing of Purok 2 and Sarmiento in Poblacion on their way to the hospital, when another group of soldiers suddenly surfaced from the side of the road. It was dark and there were no signs or signals of a checkpoint, Delgado said, so that — like in the first incident — the driver of the motorcycle the failed to stop immediately.