Rights group wants farmer slay probed

By Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:14:00 10/20/2008

MANILA, Philippines—The militant human rights group Karapatan has urged the public and the international community to pressure the government and the military to investigate the Army soldiers who allegedly killed a farmer and nearly wounded his eight-year-old son last week in Mulanay, Quezon.

In its “urgent action alert,” the group’s chapter in Southern Tagalog said letters may be sent directly to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in Malacañang to bring to her attention the alleged military attack against Alejo de Luna and his son, Mark Angelo.

“(There should be an) immediate credible investigation of the extra-judicial killing of Alejo De Luna and other violations against the De Luna family, beginning with subjecting the 74th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army to investigation,” Karatapan said in its alert released last Friday.

An urgent action alert is used by human rights groups like Karapatan “to ask the public and the international community for support or help in certain cases that need action, such as asking the people to pressure governments to act favorably for human rights victims,” Ruth Cervantes, Karapatan spokesperson, explained on Monday.

In the alert, Karapatan said soldiers from the battalion’s Bravo company arrived at the De Luna farm at around 6 a.m. last October 13.

De Luna’s wife, Angeline, told the group that she stepped out of the house after preparing coffee when she saw nine soldiers surround her husband who, along with Mark Angelo, their youngest son, was tending their farm near their home in the village of Mabini.

“‘Wag kang tatakbo! (Don’t run!)” a soldier barked at her husband, Angeline recounted.

But their terrified son ran and De Luna, 30, tried to catch up with him.

It was then when Angeline said she heard a series of gunshots from an M-16 rifle.

Angeline said the soldiers then stormed and searched their home, and threatened to bring her to an Army camp.

The soldiers left the De Luna home at 11 am. Why the soldiers stayed at the house for five hours was not explained in the Karapatan alert.

It was only after Angeline sought help from a village official that she learned that her husband had died from two gunshot wounds.

Mark Angelo, on the other hand, was almost hit. The boy had bullet burns on his shorts.

“The family sought the help of Karapatan-Quezon after the incident,” the group said.

Karapatan claimed that not only had the soldiers executed De Luna, they had also violated Mark Anthony’s rights as a child.

The group said the victims should be immediately indemnified.

Karapatan urged the public and the international community to remind the Philippine government 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.”

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