BACOLOD CITY: A human rights worker and a farmer were killed while another was wounded after unidentified armed men, allegedly goons of a landed political clan, shot them in Bayawan City, Negros Oriental.
The fatalities were identified as Elisa Badayos of Karapatan-Central Visayas and Elioterio Moises, a barangay tanod (village watchman) and member of local peasant organization Mantapi Ebwan Farmers Association. They were dead on arrival at Bayawan District Hospital.
Another shooting victim, Carmen Matarlo, 22, and a member of Kabataan party-list, is now in stable condition.
Badayos sustained a gunshot wound in the head, while Moises was hit in the armpit.
Police recovered casings for caliber .45 bullets at the site of the shooting.
Senior Supt. Henry Biñas, Negros Oriental police office director, said the incident happened on Tuesday at about 3:40 p.m. in Sitio San Ramon, Barangay Poblacion.
Biñas said initial police investigation showed the victims were riding a habal-habal (motorcycle for hire) going to Barangay Nangka in Bayawan when the suspects on board a motorcycle overtook their vehicle and fired shots them.
He said the victims were organizing the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) claimants in the area.
The victims were part of a 30-member fact-finding mission tasked to investigate and verify reported human rights violations due to intensified military operations in the area, according to Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.
Palabay said the team arrived in San Ramon, Bayawan at about 11 a.m.
They were allegedly blocked and harassed by the mayor’s private goons who inquired about their itinerary and the purpose of the mission. They were eventually allowed to pass.
At about 2:30 p.m., Bayados and a member of a Cebu youth organization went to the police station to report the harassment incident, accompanied by Moises.
Palabay said the incident happened while the victims were on their way to the police station.
Elisa is the wife of former labor leader and desaparecidos (disappeared) Jimmy Badayos.
She said the armed men were goons working for a landlord involved in a dispute with farmers in the area.
In a media briefing, Palabay said men allegedly working for a landed political clan in the province blocked and harassed the fact-finding team.
There were already nine members of farmers groups and militant organizations killed this year in Negros Oriental.