Although it is too early to say whether the military is involved in the murder of Evelyn Pitao and her live-in partner, Karapatan said they are looking closely into that possibility, given the history of violence the Pitao family had experienced in the hands of security forces.
MANILA — A sister of one the communist movement’s top leaders has been murdered along with her live-in partner, the human-rights group Karapatan in Southern Mindanao said today.
Evelyn Pitao and her unidentified partner were murdered in their home in Kapalong town, Davao Oriental, around noon on Saturday, May 23. Karapatan-Southern Mindanao secretary-general Kelly Delgado told Bulatlat.com that they received the news only today and are still investigating.
The murders occurred nearly three months after Rebelyn Pitao, Evelyn’s niece, was abducted on March 4 by suspected military agents in Davao City. Rebelyn’s dead and mutilated body was found the next day dumped in a ditch.
Evelyn is the sister of Leoncio Pitao, also known as Commander Parago, the top NPA leader in Southern Mindanao.
Tragedy had befallen the Pitao family early on, when Parago’s brother Danilo was killed in June 2008. Parago had blamed the death of Danilo and of his daughter on the military.
Although it is too early to say whether the military is involved in Evelyn’s murder, Delgado of Karapatan said they are looking closely into that possibility, given the history of violence the Pitao family had experienced in the hands of security forces.
On May 3, the NPA in Southern Mindanao announced that they had executed Ruben Bitang, the alleged driver of the vehicle used in the kidnapping of Rebelyn.
Bitang was an employee of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office of Panabo City and was the nephew of Sergeant Helvin Bitang of the Military Intelligence Group (MIG). The NPA earlier said that Helvin Bitang was involved in Rebelyn’s murder.
Parago is one of the NPA’s best-known commanders and has proved elusive despite the massive militarization in Southern Mindanao. The military has claimed that they have made inroads in their campaign against the communist movement in Southern Mindanao, blaming the NPA for the supposed lack of development in the region.
The NPA has grown in the Southern Mindanao region – in fact, it is considered one of the strongest areas of the communist movement – largely because of the many issues faced by residents there, mainly poverty and injustice.
The region is home to some of the country’s largest plantations and mining concessions, displacing thousands of residents, particularly indigenous peoples groups or Lumads, from their homes.
Because of this so-called “development aggression” as well as the numerous human-rights abuses perpetrated by state security forces who operate in tandem with the goons and guards of these companies, many of the residents in the region had little choice but to look to the NPA for help.
The military responded to the NPA’s growth in the area by pouring in more troops and militarizing even more the depressed communities. (Bulatlat.com)