Press Release

May 1, 2019

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, +639173162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, +63918-9790580

Malacanang’s Memorandum Order #32 is additional directive to kill and militarize communities – Karapatan

“It is as we feared; attacks against human rights defenders and peasants have worsened in areas targeted under Memorandum Order No. 32, an order released by Duterte in November 2018 which increases the deployment of soldiers in Samar, Negros, and Bicol on account of alleged lawless violence. In Negros, particularly with the questionable implementation of the Synchronized Enhanced Managing of Police Operations (SEMPO), the said orders resulted in the killing of six individuals in December 2018 and 14 farmers in March 2019. Similarly this year, there have also been a spike in human rights violations in Samar and Bicol, all in accordance with the implementation of MO 32 and Oplan Kapayapaan, alongside other repressive policies,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

Palabay has previously assailed the said memorandum and referred to it as “another weapon in the Duterte government’s arsenal of directives that will up the ante of State terrorism.”

On April 21, 2019, at around 10P.M., human rights workers Ryan Hubilla, Elzie Aringgo, and Rachelle Duave of Karapatan-Sorsogon were on their way back to their boarding house from their office, when they were tailed by unnamed men onboard a gray pick-up and a motorcycle, both without plates. While leaving the office, the three Karapatan workers already noticed the two vehicles. They decided to refrain from going home, and proceeded back to the office instead. Prior to the incident, the three human rights workers were accompanying Atty. Bart Rayco to visit a political prisoner in Cabid-an, Sorsogon.

An Anakpawis partylist member was gunned down in Sorsogon, while two other individuals were wounded. On April 29, 2019, Dennis Espano, 27, was driving his tricycle, along with two passengers and companions, Lilia Monteo and Zoren Furio. At around 2P.M., a men onboard a motorcycle shot at Espano and killed him, while his two companions were wounded and rushed to the hospital. The three were on their way to the wake of Furio’s grandmother.

Meanwhile, two barangay officials were killed in Samar in the past week. On April 25, 2019, Pining Lebico, barangay captain of Brgy. San Miguel, Las Navas, was shot dead by two assailants. The incident occured just a few meters away from the 20th Infantry Battalion – Philippine Army (IBPA) military camp in Brgy. San Jorge, Las Navas. Lebico was on his way home when he was killed, onboard a motorcyle and positioned at the passenger side; the vehicle’s driver is in critical condition. Lebico has long campaigned for the pull-out of military troops in civilian communities in Samar. Prior to the incident, Lebico’s grandson, Armando Jay Raymunde, was killed on April 17, after a drunk soldier reportedly threw a grenade towards the child while he was buying goods from a store.

On April 26, Wilmar Calutan, barangay captain of Brgy. Beri, Calbiga, Samar, was killed while in his residence, at around 9:30 in the evening. According to witnesses, Calutan was shot when perpetrators entered his home. The victim was shot in the comfort room, and sustained seven gunshot wounds. The assailants were wearing civilian clothing and immediately fled the scene, but many locals attest that they were soldiers under the 46th IBPA.

“Said repressive policies are piling on top of each other, amounting to the piecemeal implementation of fascist measures that are nonetheless brutal in its compounded impact to communities. Militarization in communities have plagued Bicol, Samar, and Negros, and civilian communities are noticeably bearing the brunt of such policies. When left unmonitored, state forces perpetrate human rights violations incessantly. We thus call on the repeal of Memorandum Order No. 32, an end to the militarization of communities, and an immediate investigation into the cases of violations reported by human rights defenders, who are likewise working under perilous conditions,” Palabay concluded.


Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.