On the first death anniversary of fair trade activist Romeo Capalla, human rights advocates, his friends and family marched to Camp Fernando Delgado of the Philippine National Police in Iloilo City to decry the “dearth of justice in the case of Capalla and all victims of extrajudicial killing in the country.”
Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said state forces responsible for the killing of Capalla have yet to be prosecuted, because of defective police investigation and deliberate attempts to shield them from accountability. “Thus, we will be bringing the killing of Capalla and many other cases of human rights violations before the International Peoples’ Tribunal, an international opinion tribunal, where the BS Aquino administration will be charged for its crimes,” she said.
The said tribunal, which will be held on July 2015 in Washington D.C., US, will be convened by the International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines, US-based National Lawyers Guild, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and Ibon International. Human rights and people’s organizations in the Philippines, as well as victims and kin of victims of rights violations will serve as plaintiffs/complainants in the said tribunal.
Romeo Capalla, brother of Archbishop Fernando Capalla and board chairperson of the Panay Fair Trade Center, was killed on March 15, 2014 in Oton, Iloilo by gunmen believed to be members of the ABB-RPA paramilitary group.
“We still have to recover from the loss and we are very frustrated with the police investigation,” said his widow, Coy, a nurse. Capalla’s family, friends, and colleagues also organized a mass and a rally at the Oton public market, where he was gunned down, on March 14.
Capalla’s name was in an Order of Battle list by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, together with the name of murdered Aklan councilor Fernando Baldomero who was killed on July 1, 2010, a day after BS Aquino’s inauguration as president.
“BS Aquino should not only be made accountable for the Mamasapano incident, he should also be made to answer for the killings and rights violations under his counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan,” Palabay concluded.
Cristina “Tinay” Palabay
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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.