On 2 September 2017, Dalia Velasco Arrabis and her husband Jezreel Arrabis were shot and killed in Calinan district, Davao City. Arrabis was a farmer and a member of the Farmers Association of Davao. The couple returned home from a shopping trip around 6:40pm with their seven year old son. They were parked in front of their house when a gunman approached the vehicle and shot Jezreel three times in the head. Dalia managed to push their son to safety before she was shot in her left axilla. Both died at the scene.
The attackers are alleged to have been members of the 3rd and 84th Infantry Battalions of the Philippine Army. Jay Apiag, spokesperson of Karapatan in the Southern Mindanao region reported that Jezreel had been asked on two occasions to appear at a military camp in Malagos. Military officials had accused the couple of being members of the New People’s Army, the militant wing of the Filipino communist party, due to their advocacy for farmers rights.
The Human Rights organisation Karapatan reported that the murders brought the total of Extra Judicial Killings in the Davao region to 46 under the regime of President Rodrigo Duterte. The proclamation of martial law on the island of Mindanao alongside the suspension of habeas corpus has given the military free rein to detain and murder Human Rights Defenders. In many cases, like that of the Arrabis couple, activists are labelled as terrorists or members of militant groups in order to justify their murder.