Members of anti-oil palm plantation community and support group under surveillance

RMP-NMR press release
30 October 2012

Cagayan de Oro City – Even after the death of Pangalasag chairperson, Gilbert Paborada, the crusade to silence legitimate dissent against land grabbing in Opol, Misamis Oriental continues. Rubenson Batuto, Pangalasag vice chairperson complains of surveillance operations days after the Paborada killing.

According to reports, unidentified men wearing helmets stationed outside his home at Tingalan, Opol looking for him. The men were asking his neighbors his whereabouts.

Prior to the death of Paborada, Batuto received hints that he and Paborada would be targeted for their opposition to the oil palm operation of A. Brown. In fear, Batuto stayed in his home for weeks. Batuto informed Paborada about the advice and warned him of the possibilities but the latter did not yield. True enough, Paborada was slain days after.

Meanwhile, Ruel Tagupa, also a Pangalasag leader, protested the surveillance against him on 19 October 2012 while he was on duty as a construction worker in Macasandig, Cagayan de Oro City. Two unidentified men, riding a DT motorcycle were looking for him in his workplace. Thinking that he might be next after Paborada, he told his workmates to tell the men he was absent.

Additionally, Rev. Fr. Redeemer Yanez of the Philippine Independent Church (PIC), a resident priest of the Parish of the Virgin Mary at Opol reported the harassment done against him and his church. In two separate incidents, the priest reported the presence of suspicious men lurking around the corners of his convent at Opol.

At 8:00 pm on 30 September 2012, while the youth of the PIC in Opol was conducting their monthly fellowship, church workers noticed the presence of three unidentified men standing in the corner of the church. The same men were also noticed standing outside the convent 4:00 o’clock in the morning on 28 October 2012.

Father Yanez and his church were instrumental in the networking and advocacy campaign supporting Pangalasag. Jomorito Goaynon of KALUMBAY Regional Lumad Organization raised alarm over the escalation of surveillance saying that these events are prelude to extra-judicial killings. Goaynon also smashed the never ending red-baiting against Pangalasag perpetuated by the pro-plantation individuals in the area saying that these are pathetic attempts to discredit Pangalasag and legitimize the physical elimination of their leaders.

Goaynon said Kalumbay and its network organizations will present the case of the slain Paborada and the land grabbing in Opol at a Congressional Inquiry which will be held in Davao come November 7, 2012.

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