Obello Bay-ao was 19 years old and lived with his parents and six siblings in Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod, Davao del Norte, in the Philippines, when he was attacked by two members of a paramilitary group on September 30, 2017.
According to his mother, he was a good son who used to help his father on the farm after school. He was also a member of the Manobo tribe and Liga ng mga Iskolar ng Bayan.
On the day of the incident, he was coming back from his family’s farm in Sitio Dulyan when two men approached and shot him. He started to run, despite his injures, and was found by a passerby who rushed him to the hospital. He didn’t survive, but managed to identify his attackers as Joven Salangani and Ben Salangani, members of the paramilitary group Alamara.
Obello Bay-ao participated in demonstrations to keep the Salogpongan Ta tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center (STTICLC- Dulyan) open after the school was closed and more than 200 Lumad residents in the community (including his family) fled due to threats from Alamara members and military operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. His mother said he went back to school because he dreamt of serving their community.
The Alamara is among the paramilitaries accredited by the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) under the command of the 60th Infantry Battalion- Philippine Army.
In a statement, Rius Valle, spokesperson for SOS Network-Mindanao, criticiSed President Rodrigo Duterte for tagging Lumad schools as training grounds for New People’s Army (NPA).
Under Duterte’s government, human rights defenders, members of the opposition and the independent media are seriously at risk for the government systematically denounces oppositional forces as enemies of the state and frequently accuses them of supporting the New People’s Army (NPA).