Gubat Vice Mayor hopes all LGUs provide program for families of EJK victims

By Reynard Magtoto

GUBAT, SORSOGON – Vice Mayor Sixto Estareja hopes all Local Government Units (LGUs) to provide program for the families of the victims extrajudicially killed by alleged state forces, especially in their municipality.

During the protest action in front of Gubat’s Sangguniang Bayan (SB) yesterday, Karapatan-Sorsogon and Sorsogon People’s Organization called the attention of the council to help the families of the victims of EJKs attain justice for their loved ones; and protect and defend its constituents against human rights violations.

Estareja who is also the presiding officer of SB here told Baretang Bikolnon that the children left behind by their parents are pitiful.

“Who else would care for them if the father or mother died. Hopefully there is a program to support the families left behind,” Estareja said condemning the recorded series of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in their town.

According to Karapatan-Sorsogon, many residents who are civilians are now hiding since the 31st Infantry Battalion of Philippine Army (IBPA) have been marked them on its list.

The residents of barangays Ariman, Bentuco, Casili, Naagtan, Union and Sangat are gripped with terror that the peace and order situation in their respective places could further worsen.

“Their hope lies in local officials through immediate and decisive action so that they could be restored to their normal lives before they were falsely and maliciously branded by the military,” Karapatan-Sorsogon stated.

Protesters speak for the families of the victims in the municipality of Gubat. Photo By Reynard Magtoto

EJKs, rights violations taken place in Gubat

Five EJKs and cases of harassment were taken place in Gubat alone which according to Karapatan-Sorsogon were civilians accused by military of being members, sympathizers or supporters of New People’s Army (NPA).

In Bgy. Ariman, Romeo Oidem was killed on June 12, day before the town fiesta. He was the captain of Bgy. Poblacion Norte in Barcelona.

The following day, June 13 around 7:30 pm, tricycle driver Alfredo Espedido was killed by masked men inside the premise of his house in Bgy. Naagtan. Few minutes after Espedido was killed, Barangay Captain Pedro Esperida was also killed by masked men inside his house in Bgy. Bentuco.

On the night of August 7, coconut farmer Jaime Estrada was killed inside his house while coconut farmer Jason Espano was also shot dead by unidentified men on the night of August 9.

Meanwhile, cases of harassment occurred in Bgy. Sangat that led to forced evacuation since many were targeted by the 31st IBPA according to karapatan-Sorsogon.

“A farmer was also mauled in the same barangay. A woman who just collected the amount of P65,000 from her coco lumber delivery down town was robbed at gunpoint by men she identified as elements of the 31st IBPA based in Bgy. Casay, Casiguran,” Karapatan-Sorsogon stated.

Estareja said the killings affect the economy and actions are underway to solve the problem. SB is willing to investigate the EJKs however they are asking for people’s cooperation to testify.

“The statement of Estareja was too non-committal but maybe that’s the effect of the ruling slaughter,” said Rey Hababag of Bayan Sorsogon.

Estareja worries in the upcoming barangay election that aspirants in some barangays will rarely ran. “Villagers are leaving just like the barangay officials who have been serving the people. In barangays, barangay officials are also scared. That should be stopped,” he said. (BaretangBikolnon.com)

Protesters march from municipal Church to the Sangguniang Bayan of Gubat. Photo By Reynard Magtoto

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