Progressive youth organizations led by Anakbayan trooped to Mendiola on January 23 to strongly condemn the spate of killings in Mindanao amid the US-Duterte regime’s fascist campaign against progressives and implementation of martial rule in the region.

At least three people, including two peasant activists, were killed in the past week by elements of the military, according to reports collated by human rights group Karapatan.

The most recent was the killing of 55-year-old Aniceto Lopez, Jr., secretary-general of the Quezon chapter of Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma (KASAMA)–Bukidnon, on January 22 by a member of the Marines.

Lopez was harvesting tilapia at a fishpond owned by another resident of Barangay Paitan, Quezon, Bukidnon when Oto Balopenios, a known member of the Philippine Marines, arrived and fired at Lopez with a calibre .45 pistol. A former barangay councilman, he was active in various campaigns for the interests of farmers and farm workers not only in his hometown, but also in the provincial and regional levels. He was alleged to be a member of the New People’s Army (NPA).

On January 20, 33-year-old peasant activist James Flores was shot dead in Tagum City, Davao del Norte. Flores, a member of Pederasyon sa tanang Asosasyon sa mga Mag-uuma ug Lumad sa Agusan ug Davao (PAMULAD), was tying his groceries to his single motorcycle parked at the back of Gaisano shopping mall in Tagum City, when an unidentified gunman shot him multiple times.

On January 15, civilian Aaron Notarte, 25, was found dead at a funeral parlor in Trento, Agusan del Sur. His body was brought by elements of the 75th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army on the same day. Notarte suffered two gunshot wounds, and his face and body showed signs of beating.

Soldiers claimed that Notarte was an NPA member killed in a firefight with the military in Area 69, Brgy. Imelda, Bunawan, Agusan del Sur. It was alleged that Notarte was in possession of 2 AK rifles. Witnesses however said that Aaron was a chainsaw operator. He rode his motorcycle on his way home on January 14 from Area 69, where he worked, when he came across operating troops of the 75th IBPA. The soldiers allegedly came from an encounter with the NPA in Surigao del Sur, where four of their troops were killed.

Aaron’s employer, who owns a falcatta and coffee farm in Brgy. Imelda, said that Aaron had PhP10,000 and coffee seedlings. He was on his way to buy rice before proceeding home. No money was found in his possession. Aaron, the sole breadwinner of his family, left behind his 62-year-old sickly mother Erlinda Notarte.

“The fascist ‘DuterTerorista’ regime has yet again intensified its killing rampage against its people. With martial law in Mindanao and an all-out war against dissent in place, the Filipino people is faced with another year of terror under the US-Duterte regime,” Anakbayan national secretary-general Einstein Recedes said.

“Peasant activists and other progressives from various sectors, conveniently tagged as members and sympathizers of the New People’s Army, are legitimate targets of killings and harassment by the murderous military and police under a tyrannical ruler hell-bent in crushing his enemy number one and primary impediment to his fascist dictatorship, the communist movement,” Recedes added.

Amid the wanton disregard of human rights and people’s democratic demands, Anakbayan calls on the Filipino youth to strongly oppose the implementation of martial law in Mindanao and join the massive mobilizations and walkout protests on February 1 and 23 to oppose and thwart the US-Duterte fascist dictatorship.

“This spate of killings is the concrete manifestation of fascism Duterte is implementing in the countryside and is trying to expand on a nationwide scale. The youth must therefore link arms with the broader masses and mount massive protests against Duterte’s tyranny,” Recedes said. #


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