On 5 November Dr. Rodrigo Catayong, the chairperson of human rights group Karapatan-Eastern Samar was killed. Catayong’s wife Marcela was with him when they were attacked. The two others who survived attempts on their lives were Rev. Billy Austin, head of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance) in Ilocos Sur and Rev. Lito Apalet. The two are attached to the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP).
According to information received from a reliable source, Catayong and his wife Marcela (54) were on their way to a church in MacArthur of Eastern Samar for a mass when attacked. While they were in front of a Catholic Church, five armed men riding on motorcycles shot them at close range. Catayon suffered eight gunshot wounds to his face, chest, neck and his back. He died on the spot. His wife reportedly suffered extreme trauma following the killing of her husband.
In another statement by Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas, an affiliate organisation of Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples Rights) in Central Visayas, described Catayong as a “known peace-loving citizen, an advocate of human rights and civil liberties in the province of Eastern Samar”. Catayong chaired Karapatan- Eastern Samar since 2001.
Two months prior to Catayongs killing, an alleged “liquidation list” containing the names of 31 personalities, including him, circulated all over the province. A certain Ka Hector of the Samar-Leyte Anti-Communist Movement (SLACM) signed it. They claimed that those in the list are members/sympathizers of the NPA (New People’s Army) and accused them of having “done sins against the people.” The order for liquidation, they claimed, was approved by the Committee Central ng Pilipinas Hukbong Tagahatol ng Bayan, Leysam Anti-Communist Movement.
It was Agustin Docena, a member of the Eastern Samar Coalition of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Peoples Organisation (POs) who reportedly disclosed the existence of the list in Tacloban City. Those included as targets were a mayor in Borongan, Samar; a public grade school teacher; three professors at the Eastern Samar State University including Catayong; and leaders of progressive party lists groups, a policeman and a local media man.
Those listed as targets are accused of being members of alleged leftist party list groups like Bayan Muna (People First), Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) and Gabriela. Catayong is the 90th victim of political killing in Eastern Visayas since 2001.