On 17 March, 2020, Marlon Maldos, a choreographer and trainer of “Bol-anong Artista nga may Diwang Dagohoy” (Bansiwag), became the youngest victim of extrajudicial killing in Bohol, the Philippines.
The 25-year-old activist and artistic director of a community theater group was shot dead by unidentified assailants in Cortes, Surigao del Sur.
The police investigation showed that Maldos was in between two persons on board a motorcycle in Barangay Dela Paz in Cortes when the perpetrators, on board another motorcycle, pulled up alongside and opened fire.
Witnesses told the police that Maldos was clearly the target since when he and his companions fell to the ground, the gunmen approached and finished him off. Maldos received five bullet wounds to the body.
Farmers and progressive groups, including the Hugpong sa Mag-uumang Bol-anon (Humabol), condemned the murder of Maldos. Humabol said Maldos and his family had been the subject of constant red-tagging, vilification, and harassment.
“He has been unfairly and baselessly linked to the revolutionary underground movement even if he was plainly out in the open, participating in rallies calling for genuine land reform, and organising theater arts workshops, especially after Bansiwag’s Creative Director, Alvin Fortaliza’s detention on trumped-up charges. Maldos had temporarily assumed the responsibilities left by Fortaliza.
“Marlon was a daring, graceful and creative dancer. He was amiable and hospitable especially to guest trainors from other cultural organisations. He was loved and admired by the youth he trained in his dance workshops,” Humabol said.
“He also conveyed in his performances that change is possible and that they can put an end to exploitation by being united.”
Maldos who was a son of farmers joined Bansiwag’s community-based theater at 16 years old.
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) also said that from a young age, Maldos had willingly served his fellow rural poor.
“He was at the forefront of relief operations and rehabilitation efforts for the victims of the 2013 Bohol earthquake. In 2014 after typhoon Yolanda, Maldos volunteered to help devastated communities in Negros, Samar, and Cebu.”
In 2017, he also served as a project coordinator of civic organisation the Women’s Development Center’s livelihood project, Integrated Coconut Development Processing Plant (ICDPP) in Maribojoc, Bohol. The ICDPP processes coconut, virgin coconut oil, and coconut sauce made from the coconut water and vinegar of local farmers.