Justice for fisherfolk victims of Duterte’s “crimes against democracy” sought

Manila, Philippines – In a multisectoral protest commemorating the 49th anniversary of the declaration of martial law on Tuesday, members of the fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) renewed its call for justice for its members and leaders killed extrajudicially under the Duterte administration.

PAMALAKAYA recorded eight fisherfolk leaders and members killed under the “Duterte regime”, including the fisherfolk couple Chai Lemita-Evangelista and Ariel Evangelista who were among the nine Southern Tagalog activists killed by state authorities in a region-wide crackdown last March 7, infamously known as the “Bloody Sunday”.

The six others slain PAMALAKAYA members were:

  1. Alberto Tecson – Chairman of PAMALAKAYA-Guihulngan, gunned down in July 23, 2017 in his house in Guihulngan, Negros Oriental;
  2. Aldrin Sese – provincial organizer of PAMALAKAYA-Masbate, killed in December 8, 2017 in Batuan, Masbate;
  3. Salvador Gracilla Jr. – a fisherman in Bulan, Sorsogon alleged as member of the New People’s Army (NPA) and killed by combined elements of the police and military last September 27, 2018;
  4. Jaime delos Santos – successor of Tecson for the Chairmanship of PAMALAKAYA-Guihulngan, shot dead by unknown gunmen on October 6, 2018 in front of a bakery in Guihulngan, Negros Oriental;
  5. Daniel Tejamo – leader of Bugsay Mangingisda, shot dead on the same day that delos Santos was killed in La Libertad, Negros Orinetal;
  6. Victor Villafrance – member of PAMALAKAYA’ s Haligi ng Batanguenong Anakdagat (HABAGAT), killed in October 13, 2018 at Lian, Batangas.

“We renew our call for justice for our fallen colleagues who were ruthlessly killed with impunity under the Duterte regime. Our organization has been the constant target of state forces as a reprisal for advancing the fishing rights and opposing the Duterte government’s policies that kill and starve the people,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA national chairperson said.

The fishers’ group added that its key leaders have been subjected to harassment by state agents for their active involvement in mass campaigns. For instance, PAMALAKAYA Vice Chair for Luzon Bobby Roldan, who has been instrumental in protests against Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea, is being red-tagged and threatened with messages from an unknown mobile number.

Additionally, two of the regional leaders of PAMALAKAYA in Bicol and Caraga are currently detained on trumped-up charges. They are Elwin Mangampo and Rogelio de Asis, Chairman of Lakas ng mga Mangingisda ng Bicol (LAMBAT-Bicol) and Coordinator of PAMALAKAYA-Caraga, respectively.

“While Duterte unleashes his sea monster against the Filipino fishers who are the face of the struggle for national sovereignty and territorial integrity, he, on the other hand, plays a friendly dolphin to China. The fisherfolk will continue to stand along with various sectors in ending the Duterte reign in the name of justice and accountability for all the victims of his crimes against democracy and humanity,” ended Hicap. ###

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