FARMER Angelito Marivao, 49, was supposedly safe in the company of local residents attending the wake of a friend on the night of September 16 in Barangay Mabuhay, San Fernando, Bukidnon.
But an unidentified gunman, in black jacket and a bonnet to cover his face, came to ruin the “sacred moment” of one’s last respect in honoring the dead.
At close range, witnesses said the suspect shot Marivao in the head, causing the victim’s untimely demise.
Also in San Fernando, 63-year-old farmer and activist Leonides Bacong was murdered inside his house in Little Baguio by two unknown assailants, just barely a week ago.
The treacherous attacks pulled against Bacong and Marivao now bring to 16 the total of extrajudicial killing (EJK)-like assassinations in the land-locked province of Bukidnon which used to be known as safe haven of indigenous people and ordinary farmers before martial law.
According to progressive group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Northern Mindanao (KMP), Marivao was a member of Kasama-Bukidnon, the provincial chapter of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and was active in opposing the entry of mining companies along the Pantaron Range.
The group, meanwhile, accused the military as behind Marivao’s killing, particularly, the 88th Infantry Battalion -- a claim being vehemently denied by the military.
Captain Ryan Layug, 403rd Brigade civil military officer, said the accusation is a “clear propaganda” of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
“Why are they quick to pinpoint those killings to soldiers? What do we get out of it? They are accusing? They have to prove it or else these are all trial by publicity as they want to taint the continuous increase of confidence of the public to our soldiers,” Layug said.
Layug said KMP wants to discredit the soldiers who are about to enter the communities of San Fernando to conduct Community Support Program (CSP) and resolve issues propagated by the CPP-NPA.
“With news and gossip that soldiers killed a civilian, who do we think will be very happy to hear people withdrawing support from our soldiers? Now who do we think will Laugh Out Loud if this propaganda will spread in the air and people will believe on it?,” Layug said.
Layug challenged the KMP to show concrete evidence to their claims and called on Karapatan to investigate “NPA atrocities happening in conflict-affected areas” such as San Fernando, Bukidnon.