DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The fight is not over.
A year since the killing of New Bataan 5, progressive groups here have reiterated the demand to bring both those behind the crime and those who executed the plan to justice.
On February 24, 2022, volunteer Lumad teachers Chad Booc and Gelejurain Ngujo II, community development worker Elegyn Balonga, and drivers Tirso Añar and Robert Aragon were killed by the Philippine military in Andap, New Bataan town, Davao de Oro.
The incident happened under the administration of former president Rodrigo Duterte, which has red-tagged the Lumad schools, and the case remains unsolved to this day.
“(Rodrigo) Duterte must face the International Criminal Court for the numerous cases of human rights violations under his watch, and (Ferdinand) Marcos Jr. must not cover him (for it),” said Beverly Gofredo, a Lumad school student and spokesperson of youth group Anakbayan-Southern Mindanao.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines had issued a press release claiming the five unarmed civilians were “killed in an encounter.” But families and relatives of the victims have been doubting it since day one.
The autopsy report of forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun also disputed the military claim saying there was an “intent to kill.”
The Save Our Schools Network has demanded an impartial and thorough investigation of the case and demanded that Brigadier General Jesus Durante III of the 1001st Infantry Brigade be held accountable for the “extrajudicial massacre.”
Anakbayan and other organizations under the umbrella of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in Davao held a protest on February 25 at the Freedom Park to press their demands as well as commemorate the 37th anniversary of the EDSA uprising which toppled the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.
Bayan took the time to remember the victims of Martial Law: 3,200 from the killings, 34,000 from torture, and 70,000 from incarceration.
While families and relatives still long for justice decades passed, Bayan’s PJ Dizon fears that under the late dictator’s son Marcos Jr., “blatant human rights violations” in the country will continue. He noted the number of rights violations since the son rose to power.
Rights group Karapatan has recorded 175 casualties in the war on drugs in the first six months of Marcos Jr’s presidency – higher compared to the 149 casualties during Duterte’s last six months in office.
It also recorded 15 cases of extrajudicial killings (excluding drug-related cases), over 9,000 forced evacuations, 156 illegal arrests without detention, 30 illegal arrests with detention, over 3,000 indiscriminate firings, and over 350,000 cases of threat, harassment, and intimidation as of November 2022.
Media group National Union of Journalists of the Philippines recorded 45 attacks on their ranks as of February this year.
Meanwhile, Bayan Muna (BM)-Davao lambasted Marcos Jr.’s poor handling of the economy, as increasing prices of basic goods and commodities could drive millions of Filipinos to hunger.
Since January this year, the country’s inflation rate is at 18.7 % – the highest number in 14 years.
“We haven’t heard of any concrete plans for the country since he became president. There are no genuine solutions for our basic problems. Instead, his government has been spending millions from government coffers for vague programs and his travels abroad,” said Rauf Sissay, BM-Davao coordinator. (davaotoday.com)davao city, EDSA People Power, New Bataan 5, philippines