DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Families of the two farmers who were shot dead decried over the allegations that their slain relatives were members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who died in an encounter according to the military.
Human rights group Karapatan in Caraga region identified the slain farmers as Sagloy Destajo and Richard Lampad while Benjie Destajo got wounded and Julieto Madelo was arrested in barangays Cambuayan and Pautao at past 3:00 in the afternoon on July 12 in the municipality of Bacuag in Surigao del Norte.
In its initial report, Karapatan-Caraga disclosed that the four persons involved were unarmed and were hired to dry copra for Ediltrudes Dalagan-Redondo.
“My brother was just trying to earn a living for his family,” Caumbayan Barangay Captain and sister of Sagloy Destajo, Juvelyn Agad said.
Barangay Pautao officials issued certification to the victims citing them as “civilians of good standing in the community and were not linked to the NPAs.”
However, the 30th Infantry Battallion on its Facebook page claimed its troops encountered NPA fighters allegedly led by Alberto Castaneda of Front 16, Northeastern Mindanao Regional Committee.
KARAPATAN-Caraga said that the recent killings have added up to the latest incident of massacre of the three Lumads on June 14, this year, in Lianga town in Surigao del Sur that was allegedly committed by the military.
The rights group added that there are seven battalions under three brigades assigned in the five provinces of Caraga.
It also cited the case of an alleged indiscriminate firing involving 25 farmers including children who were tending the farm when the incident occurred also on June 14 in Barangay Mabuhay in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur. The military, Karapatan-Caraga said, took custody of a 15 year-old girl who scampered to safety, but the military accused her as an NPA fighter.
Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas (KMP) and peasant rights watchdog Tanggol Magsasaka have documented 333 farmers killed since 2016 and at least 25 massacre incidents.