Int’l group to Arroyo: Probe killing of Pamalakaya activist in Batangas

Int’l group to Arroyo: Probe killing of Pamalakaya activist in Batangas

An international assembly of various fisherfolk organizations in 26 countries today appealed to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to call a full-blown investigation on the twin murder of an activist and his companion last Saturday in Calatagan, Batangas.

According to Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), the World Forum of Fisher People (WFFP) urged President Arroyo, defense chief Gilbert Teodoro, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Alexander Yano and the Senate and the House Committees on Human Rights to investigate the political liquidation of Wilfredo Gonzalez, 52 years old, who is a member of the local chapter of the group, and his companion Noli de Castro by alleged assassins identified with the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the WFFP is a global assembly of various fisherfolk organizations from the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Spain, South Africa, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Canada, Guadalupe, Honduras, Senegal, France, Bangladesh, Republic Du Mali, Benin, Madagascar, Guinea, Uganda, Kenya, New Zealand, Martinique and Mauritania.

In the statement, WFFP Secretary General Herman Kumara (Sri Lanka) the forum condemns the assassination, asserting further that President Arroyo should lead in bringing the perpetrators of extrajudicial killing before the law and take legal actions to punish the culprits.

“The Arroyo government should provide compensation to the families of Gonzalez and de Castro and must ensure such incidents would not happen in the future,” the WFFP official added.

The WFFP statement said these brutal actions will not stop the Filipino fisherfolk from pursuing their rights, including their land rights referring to the 2,000 hectares of foreshore areas allegedly landgrabbed by the Ayala landlords in Calatagan town in Batangas.

Earlier, Pamalakaya leaders accused Air Force soldiers behind the killing of Gonzalez and de Castro on Saturday morning in Barangay Bukal in Calatagan, Batangas. Two to three days before the killing, PAF soldiers were looking for Gonzalez in his house in Barangay Bukal.

Gonzalez was driving his Isuzu Elf truck to Barangay Hukay when armed men shot him and his companion at about 6:30 am on Saturday. Chief Inspector Elpidio Ramirez, Calatagan police chief said Gonzalez and de Castro suffered multiple wounds in different parts of the body and died on the spot.

The assailants, who were wearing bonnets, escaped on a motorcycle. Police recovered spent shells from an M-16 rifle and .45 caliber pistol in the area. The police chief said Gonzalez left his home at about 5:45 am to fetch a num in Barangay Hukay. The Pamalakaya member was a former town councilor and had actively joined protests over a 2,000 land dispute in Calatagan.

Maj. Gerry Zamudio, PAF Public information officer based in Villamor Airbase denied the allegations, while another PAF official said the PAF and the AFP did not resort to murderous acts. The official said linking PAF to the incident was an attempt to discredit its name as it quite successful in promoting peace, order and development in the area.

“As expected the military is always in the state of denial. The will move heaven and earth for their political cover up,” Pamalakaya’s Hicap said. The fisherfolk leader said days before the assassination happen, the PAF were looking for Gonzalez and were asking for his whereabouts.

“Why they were looking for Gonzalez? What’s the PAF purpose? Are they inviting Gonzalez for a birthday party inside Camp Villamor? That incident two to three days before the killing is a strong indication that they were really planning to liquidate Gonzalez, and their presence in the community is a sign that something bad is going to happen to the victim,” said Pamalakaya.

The militant group said they will ask the Senate Committee on Human Rights and its counterpart in the House of Representatives chaired by Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada to investigate the Gonzalez-de Castro double political murder case in Calatagan, Batangas. #


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