Karapatan, through its secretary general Cristina Palabay, today called on all civil libertarians and human rights defenders in the country and in the international community to demand from the BS Aquino government to take concrete steps to stop the spate of killings, as another activist was slain on 15 March in Oton, Iloilo.Romeo Capalla, 65, chairperson of the Board of Directors and former manager of the Panay Fair Trade Center (PFTC), was shot by unidentified gunmen at the Oton Public Market around 6:30 p.m. He sustained two gunshot wounds in the head and was declared dead on arrival at the Western Visayas Medical Center.
Capalla is the 11th victim of extrajudicial killing in the last two and a half months, starting in January 2014. Karapatan has documented 169 victims of extrajudicial killing starting July 2010, from when BS Aquino assumed presidency, to December 2013.
“As early as February, Karapatan already sounded the alarm as the cases of killings started to rise. There were killings once a week, on the average. We see a comeback of Gloria Arroyo’s Oplan Bayanihan. The BS Aquino government is speeding up the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan to meet its internal deadline and offset its failure in the last three years,” Palabay added.
Capalla was arrested on 3 August 2005 based on trumped up charges of arson. His co-accused in the said case, Aklan councilor Fernando Baldomero, became the first victim of extrajudicial killing under the BS Aquino regime. Baldomero was killed five days after Aquino was sworn into office in 2010.
“BS Aquino government’s audacity to face the people, to lie on the human rights situation in the country and bid for a seat the United Nations Commission on Human Rights is unbelievable. It has not done anything as new cases of killings are happening one after another, while those committed in the past years remain unsolved,” added Palabay.
Capalla was at the market to assist his mother in-law when the gunmen shot him; hitting the right side of his head, near the temple. His left eye popped because of the bullet. The Oton police said aside from the gunmen, there were three others who fled from the market to the town of San Miguel, Iloilo.
Capalla was chairperson of the board of the PFTC, and was also its manager. The PFTC, a member organization of the International Federation of Alternative Trade, exports certified-organicmuscovado sugar and banana chips.
He was a member of Samahan ng mga Ex-detainee Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA). Even after the dismissal of the false charges against him, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police did not stop harassing and tagging Capalla commander of the New People’s Army. He was included in the order of battle list of the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army in 2004.
Romy Capalla is the brother of Archbishop Fernando Capalla, former chairperson of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
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KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.