On 11 January 2016, Ricky Penaranda was shot and killed in Central Village, Mati City. He was on his way home after settling the case of a farmer arrested in a land dispute when two men riding a motorcycle approached his vehicle and shot him in the back. A witness to the killing reported that the two men, with their faces covered by handkerchiefs, yelled “You’re brave eh! You really want to fight!” before fleeing the scene.
Penaranda was the chairman of the Fisherman Landless Association and a member of Indug Kautawan. The 44 year old was a strong voice for human rights in his region and regularly defended the rights of peasant communities.
The murder of Penaranda comes in the wake of four other extra judicial killings on the southern island of Mindanao. A conflict between the communist New People’s Army and the state armed forces has lead to greater powers for the military and a widespread crackdown on peaceful, civil society activity. The leader of Filipino human rights organisation Karapatan, Cristina Palaby stated “The fascist and mercenary minds of the AFP and their boss BS Aquino think that they can quell the armed revolution by mercilessly killing civilians. Their brains cannot comprehend that the more they kill, the more people are compelled to fight back.”