Anti-mining advocate shot dead in Maco, Compostela
Valley province, Philippines
submitted on Thu, 01/23/2014 -
UA Case: Extrajudicial killing
Victim/s: MARCELO C. MONTERONA, Jr.
Male, 41, married with three children ages 16, 14 and 12
Self-employed mechanic and driver
Resident of Maco town, Compostela Valley province
Council member, Indug Kautawan, Maco chapter of Barug Katawhan (People
Rise Up! a group of typhoon “Pablo” survivors in Maco)
Member, Kabalikat Civicom – Maragusan Chapter
Place of Incident: Near the victim’s house in Elizalde village, Maco,
Date of Incident: 3 January 2014
Alleged Perpetrator(s): Two unidentified men believed to be members of the
71st Infantry Battalion Philippine Army on board a motorcycle.
Account of the Incident:
On January 3, 2014, Marcelo Monterona was fixing his multicab vehicle. At
around 11 a.m., he went to Km. 11 on-board his motorcycle to borrow a
sparkplug ring from his friend Edgardo Sedillo, a bakery owner. Sedillo’s
bakery is about 600 meters from Monterona’s residence. While waiting for
Sedillo, Monterona noticed seven army soldiers in uniform at a
neighbourhood store across the street. Right after Monterona got the
sparkplug ring, he returned to his house to continue fixing the multicab.
At around 12:00 noon, Monterona tested the multicab on the road in front
of his house. He was some 13 meters from his house when two unidentified
men, aboard an XRM motorcycle, stopped near the driver’s seat of the
multicab. Witnesses said the gunman went straight to the driver’s seat and
shot Monterona with a .45 caliber pistol, hitting him on the left side of
his mouth. He tried to crawl out of the vehicle through the passenger’s
side. But the gunman got on the vehicle through the driver’s side door and
shot Monterona several times more before speeding away.
Monterona fell out of the vehicle and was rushed to a hospital in Tagum
City by his wife and son. Sedillo, who was grazed by a stray bullet in the
stomach, was also brought to the hospital.
Monterona was pronounced Dead On Arrival (DOA). Sedillo, who sustained
minor injuries, was discharged of the hospital on the same day. From the
hospital, Monterona’s remains were brought back to their residence in
Purok 1, Sitio Waterfall, Barangay Elizalde, Municipality of Maco.
The following day, on January 4, the Philippine National Police of Mawab
arrived at the funeral parlor and examined the remains of Monterona. PO1
Haidan Ajiji said Monterona sustained six gunshot wounds.
Also on the same day, a Quick Response Team (QRT) from Davao City led by
Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region arrived to gather additional data on
The team recovered a tooth at the driver’s seat; the right wind shield of
the multicab was hit and broken. The right door of the multicab also had
two holes from gunshot and a splinter at the passenger’s seat. The day
before, Monterona’s relatives recovered three empty shells and two slugs
of .45 caliber pistols near the vehicle.
The witnesses said the motorcycle driver was medium-built, and with
moustache. The gunman was skinny. He wore a yellow bullcap, yellow-green
jacket, and black trekking short pants. His face was covered with
handkerchief. The motorcycle had no nameplate. Also, neighbors noticed two
men at a nearby store, whom they assumed were “spotters” or look-out.
Monterona was an active Council member of Indug Kautawan. He actively
participated in national and local campaigns against the large-scale and
open-pit mining operations of the Apex Mining Company . Last year, he and
other victims of the typhoon Pablo/Bopha barricaded the gates of the
mining company in Maco, paralyzing its operations. The protesters cited
the mining company’s accountability for increasing the vulnerability of
the people in Maco, when the typhoon hit their communities, as a result of
its destructive mining operations. As a result of the protest, Apex agreed
to indemnify the victims with PhP3.6 million, 300 sacks of rice, and to
rehabilitate local infrastructure and the damaged communities.
Monterona also campaigned for the pull-out of 71st Infantry Battalion from
the communities, criticized the military’s aerial bombings in the area,
and demanded justice for the slain Pedro Tinga, also a member of Indug
Kautawan, and other human rights abuses by the military. On December
16-18, 2013, during their barricade and lobbying at the Provincial Capitol
of Compostela Valley in Nabunturan, he caught a military agent taking
pictures of the protesters. ###
Chairperson, secretary of peasant organization
ambushed by unidentified assailants in Valencia town, Bukidnon province
02/11/2014 - 15:02
Case: Extrajudicial killing and
frustrated extrajudicial killing
JULIETO LAURON (Killed)
- 41, male, married with 4 children
- Chairperson of Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma (Kasama or Association of
Farmers)-Vintar Chapter, Valencia City
NERMIE LAPATIS (Frustrated killing, survived with injuries)
- 41, female, married, member of the Higaonon indigenous people’s tribe
- Secretary of Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma (Kasama) – Vintar, Valencia
Place of Incident: Juanilla Village, Poblacion, Valencia City, Bukidnon
Date of Incident: 05 February 2014
Two unidentified men aboard a motorcycle, believed to be members of State
Account of the Incident:
In the morning of February 5, 2014, Julieto Lauron was driving a
motorcycle with Nermie Lapatis. They were on their way to the village of
Hindangon, Valencia City when two unidentified men on a red motorcycle
overtook them, blocked their way and immediately shot Lauron and Lapatis.
Lauron who was hit on his neck, chest and stomach immediately died, while
Lapatis was hit in her right knee. The assailants quickly escaped.
A few days earlier, Lauron was elected chairperson of the local chapter of
Kasama among farmers at Vintar village. The assembly was also attended by
Lapatis and several other officials of Kasama-Valencia. In the said
assembly, two unidentified men were reportedly seen taking pictures of
As of writing, Lapatis is confined at a hospital in Valencia City and is
scheduled for a knee operation.
Lapatis and her family had moved in to Valencia City from Magkalungay
village in San Fernando town, Bukidnon because of threats against her
life. She was an organizer among indigenous peoples in Bukidnon. She
actively campaigned against the entry of large-scale mining companies in
the town. Her pro-people activities earned the ire of the military and
paramilitary groups. She reported several incidents of harassments from
the paramilitary group New Indigenous People’s Army for Reform (NIPAR);
and the 8th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army.
In Valencia, Lapatis continued her work helping several farmers in the
different villages as secretary of Kasama – Valencia City chapter.
In October 2012, Kasama-Valencia and Kasama-Bukidnon launched a successful
campaign for the increase of daily wages of farm workers – from the daily
wage of PhP125 per day to PhP150 to 200.
Peasant leader abducted, remains missing in Isabela
03/12/2014 - 12:00
Case: Enforced disappearance
Dela CruzVictim/s: ROMULO DELA CRUZ, 42 years old
Farmer and resident of Barangay Matusalem, municipality of Roxas, Isabela
Member of Agbiag Matusalem Association-Roxas Isabela (AMA-RI), an
association of residents of Matusalem village, Roxas town. AMA-RI is a
member organization of Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon iti (Dagami), an alliance
of peasant organizations in Cagayan Valley
Place of Incident: Nueva Era village, San Manuel municipality, Isabela
Date of Incident: February 28, 2014
Alleged Perpetrator(s): Unidentified men who claimed to be agents of the
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)
Account of the Incident:
On February 28, 2014, Romulo Dela Cruz attended the wedding of his son,
Romy, in a mass wedding ceremony in Roxas town, At around 11:30 a.m., Dela
Cruz boarded his motorcycle and made his way back to his village in
Barangay Matusalem, Roxas, together with with Julie Danga, one of the
wedding sponsors. The newlyweds, aboard another motorcycle, were behind
When they reached Brgy. Nueva Era in San Manuel town, a gray van without a
plate number blocked their path. A man, whose face was covered with a
handkerchief, alighted from the van and pulled the handlebar of Dela
Cruz’s motorcycle sideways. Dela Cruz and his passenger fell to the
ground. The man grabbed Dela Cruz by the neck and pointed a small gun to
Danga asked the men what they wanted. The man told her he is a member of
the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). Dela Cruz appealed not to hurt
his companions, saying he will go with them voluntarily. Danga cried and
shouted for help.
The man pushed Dela Cruz inside the van. Six other men, with long
firearms, were inside the van. The van quickly drove towards the national
Romy and his relatives, with the assistance of AMA-RI members, immediately
reported the abduction of Romulo dela Cruz to the San Manuel police
station. The police inspected the site of the incident and declared that
the case is outside their jurisdiction.
The police also took the statements of Danga and Romy. During Romy’s
interview, the police asked about his father’s work with Dagami. A police
again told Romy the case is not within their jurisdiction simply because
Dagami, allegedly, has “several rival organizations.”
Romulo Dela Cruz is an active member of peasant group Agbiag-Danggayan
Dagiti Mannalon iti Isabela (Agbiag-Dagami). He is known to have opposed
land grabbers in Roxas town.
As of writing, Romulo Dela Cruz’s whereabouts is still unknown.
UA Date: March 12, 2014
Call for justice for the victims of killing and
arbitrary arrest in the Bicol region, Philippines
03/10/2014 - 10:58
Please join us in our call for justice for the victims of killing and
arbitrary arrest in the Bicol region.
Assassination of rights defender and his son in Albay province
around 8:00 p.m. of February 26, 2014, Rosaldo Rayteran was driving home
to Matara village after plying his jeepney route from Polangui town. With
him was his 18-year-old son, Rasty.
When they reached Barangay (village) San Pascual, two masked men onboard a
motorcycle blocked their path and began shooting at them. Rosaldo and
Rasty were immediately killed.
Prior to the incident, Rosaldo received threats on his life as coordinator
of Albay People’s Organization, a human rights organization On December
10, 2013, he was a speaker at a program sponsored by Kadena Bicolandia in
Matacon, Polangui to commemorate human rights day.
Coconut worker killed, another arrested and detained in Sorsogon City
Bryan Gallega (L) and Henry Orbena (R)On January 30, 2014, cousins Henry
Orbina and Bryan Gallega were waiting for a jeepney in Brgy. Cabid-an,
Sorsogon City, when a police from a nearby outpost approached them and
asked them where they work. The two replied that they were workers at a
coconut factory. After a few minutes, eight men walked towards them.
Gallega saw two of the men pulled out their guns. Fearing for their lives,
Gallega and Orbina ran away.
Gallega went inside a house, which belonged to the owner of a nearby gas
station, upon hearing gunshots. Gallega heard Orbina say he was hit, so he
went outside the house to help Orbina. He flagged down a truck to take
them to the hospital, but the truck driver did not stop. Gunshots were
fired again. Gallega could not carry his cousin back to the house, so he
was forced to leave Orbina behind.
When the firing stopped, a number of policemen entered the house where
Gallega was. The police took the names of the people inside the house,
including that of the owner, his wife and his employees. They arrested
Gallega and took his bag.
According to witnesses, Gallega was brought to the Philippine National
Police (PNP) precinct in Brgy. Cabid-an, Sorsogon, while Orbina’s remains
were brought to a funeral parlor.
On the evening of January 31, Gallega was taken from his police detention
cell, supposedly for a ballistic examination. Gallega heard one policeman
say, “Patayin na iyan.” (He should be killed.) His head was covered with a
black cloth bag. In panic, Gallega screamed for help and tried to run back
inside the precinct. The police immediately removed the cloth bag from his
The police charged Gallega with illegal possesion of firearms and
On February 17, 2014, Sorsogon City Prosecutor Alma Zacarias dismissed the
charges stipulating that the search conducted was unlawful, and that the
alleged evidence used against Gallega was inadmissible. The Prosecutor
added that Gallega’s “alleged admission that he had a handgun could not be
taken against him because his right under custodial investigation,
particularly the right to counsel, was violated.” The order for Gallega’s
release was issued.
Farmers’ group, woman rights defender threatened in Aurora province,
Central Luzon, Philippines
02/11/2014 - 14:11
Case: Threat, harassment and intimidation, surveillance
ROSEMARIE ROJAS, 44
- Community organizer and coordinator of Samahang Magbubukid na Kababaihan
(Samaka or Association of Women Farmers), and Panlalawigang Alyansa ng mga
Magbubukid ng Aurora (Pamana or Alliance of Peasants in the Aurora
At least 42 households and residents of Sitio Ilaya, Barangay Zabali,
Staff members of Pamana
Places of Incident:
- Sitio Ilaya, Barangay Zabali, Baler, Aurora
- The Pamana office located in Maria Aurora town, Aurora
Dates of Incident: January 16 and 17, 2014
Two unidentified men believed to be the State intelligence agents; and, at
least 15 elements of the 56th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army.
Account of the Incident:
On the evening of January 16, 2014, members of the Philippine Army
surrounded the house of peasant organizer Rosemarie Rojas.
According to Rojas’s neighbors, at least 15 members of the 56th Infantry
Battalion arrived in their community past 11:00 p.m. The soldiers
surrounded Rojas’s house, as some soldiers were lying face-down on the
grassy lot across the street, their guns trained at the house. A number of
soldiers entered Rojas’s yard, peeked through the windows and through the
small gaps on the walls.
The soldiers also entered the courtyards of several other houses nearby.
Residents said the soldiers left at around 2:00 a.m. of January 17, 2014.
Rojas, who was sleeping alone on the second floor of her house, only found
out about the incident in the morning of January 17, when her neighbors
told her. She immediately reported to the village officials.
Also, on January 17, at past 11:00 a.m., two unidentified men believed to
be State intelligence agents were seen conducting surveillance on the
Pamana office in the town of Maria Aurora. A staff of Pamana noticed a
tricycle parked near the office with two male passengers, one inside the
tricycle’s cab, while the other was seated behind the driver. The Pamana
staff member saw the man behind the driver taking photos of the office.
Then the men saw the Pamana staff, the tricycle driver sped away.
Rojas is a community organizer of Pamana, focused on the women’s sector.
She works with the Samaka in the municipality of Baler, province of
Aurora. Samaka, with Gabriela Women’s Partylist, is setting up
community-based pharmacies for women and children’s basic health needs in
select villages. Samaka was, at the time, also preparing for a medical
Pamana actively participates in the campaign to oppose the Aurora
Development Master Plan and Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Act
of 2010 (APECO). The said project aims to transform the Casiguran town and
Aurora province into a commercial and industrial district and eco-tourism
zones. The APECO project is spearheaded by the Angara family through the
former senator Edgardo Angara and Juan Edgardo Angara a member of the
House of Representatives in Congress.
The APECO project, which resulted to massive land-grabbing and
displacement of Dumagat and Alta tribes, is widely opposed by the people
of Aurora, primarily by the farmers, fisherfolks and indigenous peoples.
Pamana is also involved in the campaign seeking justice for the killing of
Romualdo Palispis, member of Bayan Muna and Justice and Peace Action Group
of Aurora, and Wilhelm Geertman, a Dutch national who were killed on June
30 and July 3, 2012 respectively. Geertman spent almost 40 years in the
Philippines as development worker. He was executive director of Alay
Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:
The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding
and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights
groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights
that will look into the surveillance and threat, harassment and
intimidation of rights defender Rosemarie Rojas and Panlalawigang Alyansa
ng mga Magbubukid ng Aurora (Pamana or Alliance of Peasants in the Aurora
An end to the policy and practice of labelling and
targeting of human rights defenders as “members of front organizations of
the communists” and “enemies of the state.”
The Philippine government to withdraw its
counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes innocent and
The Philippine government to be reminded that it is a signatory to the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all
the major Human Rights instruments, thus it is bound to observe all of
these instruments’ provisions.