On May 24, 2015, at around 10 p.m., a loud sound of budyong (a sea shell used to signal for help) awakened Marcela Madronero. She immediately rose and saw the roof of her brother Endric Calago’s house in flames. Then she heard Rosalie, her brother’s wife, who shouted, “Help us, the Army is here!” Then Madronero heard a burst of continuous gunshots. Afraid that they too might be shot, Madronero and cousin Dante Flores did not go to the Calago house until 5 a.m., when Madronero heard the wailing of Erly Calago, daughter of Endric and Rosalie. When Madronero and Flores rushed to the couple’s house, they saw the house razed to the ground, including the bodies of the couple. Endric’s body was found near the balcony with several gunshot wounds. Rosalie’s body was just outside the kitchen door, totally burned.
Endric “Bayoto” Calago was the vice chairperson of Kaugmaon, a local peasant organization affiliated with the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP). Rosalie was a barefoot reporter for various local radio programs in Negros and Cebu. She was also a member of Gabriela. Both were involved with the relief and rehabilitation programs for victims and survivors of a landslide that happened in 2012.
The Calago couple had been victims of human rights violations since 2013. “In 2013, the Calago house was strafed by the same army unit responsible for the couple’s death,” Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, said. “In 2014, the couple and other members of the Kaugmaon were charged with a fabricated case of robbery, qualified trespass to dwelling, and grave coercion filed by a certain Oliver Villahermosa who is now under the protection of the same killer battalion.
Last March 29, a leaflet was distributed with names of local leaders, including Endric Calago, as “members of legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army.”