Philippines rights group accuses army of killing activist

Archbishop’s brother shot dead in Iloilo province

Ronald Reyes, Tacloban City –

17 March 2014

Philippine rights group Karapatan on Monday accused the military of
killing a prominent activist and brother of a Catholic archbishop at the

At least two gunmen shot and killed Romeo Capalla, 65, in the central
Philippine town of Oton in Iloilo province on Saturday.

Capalla was a former political detainee and the younger brother of
Archbishop Emeritus Antonio Capalla of Davao, Karapatan said.

He was also a member of the Association of Ex-Detainees against
Detention and Arrest.

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said Capalla, who suffered
two gunshot wounds to the head, was the 11th victim of extrajudicial
killing this year.

“There are killings once a week, on average,” said Palabay.

Karapatan says it has so far documented 169 victims of alleged
extrajudicial killing since July 2010 when President Benigno Aquino came
to power.

Palabay said Capalla had been charged with arson by the military and was
arrested in 2005. His co-accused, Fernando Baldomero, she said, was
assassinated just after Aquino took office.

Palabay said even after the charges against Capalla were dismissed,
soldiers allegedly continued to harass him, branding him as a commander
of the communist New People’s Army rebel group.

Major Ray Tiongson, spokesman for the army’s 3rd Infantry Division, said
any attempt to tag the military with Capalla’s killing was “preposterous”.

“[The military] is very much open for investigation if Karapatan
believes that its personnel are behind the killing of Capalla,” Tiongson
said in a statement on Monday.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda also dismissed the rights group’s
“We have a task force focusing on [extrajudicial killings] headed by
[Justice] Secretary Leila de Lima,” he said.

“This is not state policy. We go through each and every extralegal
killing and we try to investigate,” Lacierda told a press briefing today.