On Sunday, February 7 2016 Alejandro Laya-og, a human rights defender was murdered in Poblacion village in Maragusan. He was waiting at a bus terminal when he was shot once in the back and then again in the head as he fell to the ground. The assailants are suspected to be members of the 46th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine military. He is survived by his wife.
Laya-og was the founder and leader of the group Kamama which protested the militarisation of villages and rural communities on the island of Mindanao. The 36 year old strongly condemned human rights violations in Maragusan villages and had helped construct Salugpongan Community Learning Center, a school for the indigenous Lumad population.
Laya-og’s wife reported that he had been falsely labelled as a terrorist and member of the New People’s Army by the military because of his support for human rights. This is a common tactic employed by authoritarian regimes when they wish to cover up the extra judicial killings of activists working in the civil society space. Human rights group Karapatan denounced what it called a “killing frenzy” by suspected soldiers in Compostela Valley province, with three other victims slain in as many days.