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Two members of paramilitary group charged with murder of Lumad student

October 29, 2018

QUEZON CITY – In a resolution, the Department of Justice found probable cause to charge Ben Salangani and Joven Salangani, members of paramilitary group Alamara, for the murder of 19-year old Lumad Obello Bay-ao, a student of the alternative school Salugpongan Ta’Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center (STTICLC).

Bay-ao’s parents through their legals counsels from the National Union of Peoples Lawyers received a copy of the resolution dated May 21, 2018 only yesterday.

Bay-ao was killed on September 5, 2017 in Talaingod, Davao del Norte. He and his family were among the more than 200 Lumad residents in the community who fleed in July 2017 due to threats of the Alamara members and military operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The evacuees returned to their community in August 2017.

The Alamara is among the paramilitaries or force multipliers accredited by the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) under the command of the 60th Infantry Battalion- Philippine Army.

“The arrest of Ben and Joven Salangani is long overdue. Their coddlers in the 60th IBPA and the Eastern Mindanao Command should not only surrender them. They should also be charged for their complicity in the killing of Bay-ao and their military operations in Talaingod which led to this dastardly crime,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

“Obello Bay-ao is among the many victims of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines that happened while martial law is imposed in Mindanao by President Rodrigo Duterte. Many military and paramilitary men are still on loose sowing terror in peasant and Lumad communities. Many are yet to be prosecuted due to the climate of impunity that exists,” Palabay added.

Before he was killed, Bay-ao joined the protest caravan called Lakbayan ng mga Pambansang Minorya in Manila on August 2017. Through his dying declaration to one of the witnesses, Bay-ao was able to identify Ben and Joven Salangani as those who shot him. Witnesses also identified the two as among those who shot Bay-ao.

“The culpability of paramilitaries such as the Alamara in the killing of Bay-ao affirms that the AFP and its adjuncts are into the business of murdering civilians. This has been the case in the massacre in Lianga, Surigao del Sur in September 2015. This is once again apparent in the massacre of the nine peasants in Sagay, Negros Occidental by the Special Civilian Auxiliary Army of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and mercenary private armies of landlords,” she said.

“We stand with the family, friends, fellow students and community of Obello Bay-ao and of all those killed by State forces under the Duterte regime in their continuing quest for justice. We reiterate our call for the disbandment of paramilitary groups and for the Duterte regime to end its attacks against the Filipino people,” ended Palabay.