Three human rights advocates were killed between June 9 and 14 in Masbate.
Karapatan reported that Arnie Espenilla, Zando Alcovendas and Pizo Cabug, residents of two barangays in the town of San Fernando, Masbate, were killed by state forces.
The three farmers were members of Masbate People’s Organization, an organization member of Karapatan-Bicol.
Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary-general, said the three victims were allegedly killed by soldiers from the Army’s 2nd Infantry Battalion, who broke into their homes at Barangay Lahong and Buenavista.
“All unarmed, Espenilla, Alcovendas, and Cabug were murdered in the same week that Sorsogon-based human rights workers [Ryan] Hubilla and [Nelly] Bagasala, as well as former activist Neptali Morada, were killed,” Palabay added.
According to the Karapatan press release, at around 8 p.m. on 9 June, Espenilla was at home in Barangay Lahong with his family when a “number of soldiers forcibly entered the house and shot him to death.”
At around 5 p.m. the following day, uniformed men forcibly entered the house of Zando Alcovendas in Barangay Buenavista and shot him dead.
On June 14, Pizo Cabug, a resident of Barangay Buenavista, was at home and was about to retire for the night when soldiers killed him.
“These killings are clear manifestations of this regime’s promotion of the culture of violence and impunity among its uniformed men and vigilante-styled assailants. The spate of murders indicate the continuing and worsening human rights crisis in the region and in the country as a whole,” Palabay added.
Karapatan said that the Bicol region was fast becoming a killing field as the government “intensifies its crackdown on activists” after the issuance of Memorandum Order 32, an order deploying more soldiers and policemen in Bicol region.