SORSOGON CITY – A human rights leader in Sorsogon Province was liquidated by several gunmen inside his home midnight of Wednesday of August 19, and his killing and other similar incidents of human rights violations have elevated to worse level of crimes against humanity.
This is what human rights advocates have feared after the State last year launched military campaigns against insurgents in Sorsogon and Masbate, the two priority provinces of the Bicol Region targeted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Oplan Bayanihan anti-insurgency program.
Even human rights advocates, who are monitoring human rights situation in the two provinces, are not spared by these State-sanctioned military atrocities.
On midnight of Wednesday, six (6) men riding in tandem in three motorcycles barged into Teodoro “Ka Tudoy’ Escanilla’s and shot him dead. (See news break …… )
He sustained multiple gunshot wounds in different parts of his body. The assailants fled after the incident.
Ka Tudoy was the spokesperson of human rights watch group, KARAPATAN-Sorsogon and anchorperson of human rights advocacy radio program, Pamana ng Lahi, over Radio DZMS for 10 years.
He was getting old, but he refused to retire from his human rights advocacy, believing that “human rights advocacy is a continuing crusade in internal conflict areas.”
His only weapons are the microphone, his convincing style in public speaking and undying commitment to serve his fellow man. But, his life was ended by guns.
Human rights colleagues of Ka Tudoy reacted in grief: “Killing a defenseless and an unarmed man, done through treachery and premeditation, is an unspeakable crime. Killing a man who championed the cause of human rights is a crime against humanity.”
“The perpetrators of this killing are as bestial and demonic as their deed which could only be found in military camps and garrisons of a police and Hitlerian state that has no regard to the sanctity of life and respect for the human rights of the people,” KARAPATAN-Sorsogon said in anger, as the group recalls the determination of old man Ka Tudoy as spokesperson when briefing the media.
KARAPATAN- Sorsogon continued: “Ka Tudoy was an old man at 63, but even in his twilight years, he anchored a radio program, “Pamana Ng Lahi”, over Radio DZMS for 10 years.”
“Despite his advanced years, he refused to retire because he believed that human rights advocacy is a continuing crusade especially in internal conflict areas,” a group member said.
“Many more Ka Tudoys will spring forth from the ranks of the oppressed masses despite of his killing,” said a human rights colleague.
According to his co-workers, Ka Tudoy, over his radio program, minced no words in denouncing and exposing human rights abuses committed by the military on helpless civilians in the course of their counter-insurgency operations.
Sympathetic people warned him several times that he was in the military “hit list”.
But these threats did not deter or slacken him in pursuit of his advocacy until that mournful night of August 19.
Ka Tudoy’s murder happened at this time when Masbate and Sorsogon are priority provinces of the counter-insurgency campaign, Oplan Bayanihan, of the Aquino regime in the Bicol Region.
These military campaigns have exacted untold sufferings and grief among innocent civilians and rural folk branded by the military as “rebels”, incidents that were documented by KARAPATAN.
Worse, people’s organizations and their members are labeled as “legal fronts” of the CPP-NPA-NDF.
Thus, they are subjected to vicious and violent attacks by state security forces with impunity.
To confound the matter, the Philippine justice system refuses to acknowledge that military barbarism and atrocity exist, and the killing of civilians is a normal or regular thing in the conduct of military operations.
Top government officials led by President Aquino, turn a deaf ear on loud cries of human rights abuses despite calls by international human rights organizations and the United Nations Commissioner on Human Rights (UNCHR) to look into the increasing human rights abuses in the Philippines.
“We also call on all people to condemn in the strongest term possible this senseless and cold-blooded killing which has no place in a society if it calls itself civilized and democratic,” KARAPATAN-Sorsogon lamented. [BicolToday.com]