Court Convicts Suspect in Killing of Activist


A human rights lawyer called the first conviction of a perpetrator in the extrajudicial killings of activists in the country as a ray of hope. But other perpetrators remain scot-free and so the search for justice continues.

By ARTEMIO DUMLAO
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 19, June 15-21, 2008

BAGUIO CITY (246 kms. north of Manila) —  One of the suspects behind the killing of Jose Doton, chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-Pangasinan, was found guilty of murder.

Judge Ulysses Butuyan of the Regional Trial Court Branch 51 of Tayug town, Pangasinan found Joel Flores guilty of murder and frustrated murder. Butuyan sentenced the assassin to 41 years in jail and ten years more for the frustrated murder of Jose Doton’s brother Diosdado.

Flores, believed to be an intelligence operative of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), was arrested in mid-2006.

Doton, a staunch critic of the San Roque Multi-purpose Dam Project in San Manuel town, Pangasinan, was killed on May 16, 2006 in San Nicolas town of the same province. Motorcycle-riding men shot Doton dead about 200 meters away from his home. His brother Diosdado who was with him at that time was seriously wounded.

Flores was also ordered to pay the heirs of the Doton family P 500,000 ($11,258 at an exchange rate of $1=P44.41) and P200,000 ( $4,503) to Diosdado for damages.

Reynaldo Cortes, a lawyer and member of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance hailed the decision. “We commend Judge Butuyan for deciding on the merits of the case. This is a first for the more than 900 cases of extrajudicial killings of activists in the country.”

Cortes also praised Alfie Bince of the Pangasinan Integrated Bar of the Philippines who help prosecute the case for the Doton family.

Cortes said, “Before his death, Doton received death threats and was subjected to a vilification campaign and surveillance, just like the other victims of extrajudicial killings. He was tagged as a communist sympathizer and a terrorist.”

The human rights lawyer said the conviction is “”a ray of hope in our quest for justice for victims of human rights violations.”

“More work has to be done. The mastermind and the companions of Flores who carried out the killing still have to be identified, arrested and brought to justice,”.said Cortes. Contributed to Bulatlat

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