On 7 May 2016 Maria Myrna Cayag was shot by suspected state agents. She was left in a coma for over a month following the attack before passing away on 9 June in hospital. Family and witnesses testified that she had been a constant target of government forces “red-tagging and surveillance”.
Cayag was the chairperson of the Monkayo Farmers Association and a board member of Binulig Cooperative. As a human rights defender she advocated for the rights of farmers and peasant communities on the island of Mindanao.
In just a few weeks there were 7 extra judicial killings of farmers and Lumads on Mindanao by state forces. The military claims that all of the victims were members of the New People’s Army, the militant wing of the Filipino communist party. Labelling peaceful activists as violent terrorists is a common tactic employed by authoritarian regimes. The previous March Cayag was placed on ‘Order of Battle’ list and told to surrender by the 25th Infantry Battalion.