Mar 27, 2014

Cordillera: Extrajudicial Killing of Human Rights Activist

On March 25, 2014, William Bugatti, a devoted human rights worker was shot by unidentified assassins. He is the 12th activist killed this year. Bugatti was a member of the Regional Council of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance-KARAPATAN and a member of the Regional Council of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance. On the day of his murder he attended a hearing on the case of two political prisoners. 

Below is an article published by Bulatlat

Activist William Bugatti was killed [on 25 March 2014] at around 7 p.m. along the Ifugao Highway in Bolog, Kiangan. He sustained three gunshot wounds. As of this writing, the circumstances regarding the killing of Bugatti is not yet clear.

Bugatti is the 12th activist killed this year. Under the Aquino administration, human rights alliance Karapatan has documented 169 cases of extrajudicial killings, 825 illegal arrests, 13,528 victims of demolitions and 63,077 victims of threats and harassments as of December 2013.

Bugatti’s name appeared in a military document titled “Municipality of Tinoc (Target Persons),” which the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance managed to secure a copy of in October 2012.  

The two-page document, which bears the logo of the 86th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and the 5th Infantry Division, contains 28 civilian names, their addresses, their organizations or affiliations and their alleged role in the armed struggle. These include “nagbibigay ng pagkain sa NPA” (gives food to NPA), “tulugan ng NPA ang kanilang bahay” (where members of NPA sleep), “imbakan ng baril” (storage place for guns), “kumander ng NPA” (NPA commander), among others. Bugatti, whose name was 21st in the list, was listed a human rights officer and tagged as “utak ng NPA” (brains of the NPA).

The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) said in its statement that Bugatti was a Tuwali and a human rights advocate. He was a regional council member of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance-Karapatan and of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance. Bugatti was the provincial coordinator of Bayan Muna partylist.

Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said Bugatti hosted the visit in Ifugao of international delegates of the International Conference on Human Rights and Peace last July 2013.

In a previous report, Bugatti revealed that there were incidents of surveillance and harassment against him. Bugatti, the paralegal officer of Cordillera Human Rights Alliance, was “barred several times from visiting political detainees at the Ifugao Provincial Jail. The jail warden claimed that there is a ‘Regional Memorandum’ stating that Bugatti is not allowed to enter the jail and visit the political detainees.”

Aside from Bugatti, Jude Baggo, secretary general of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance, was also receiving text messages warning him that he would be arrested if he will not stop joining political activities. The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance said in the report that they have reliable sources that verified that these messages were from state security forces.

In her Facebook post, Palabay demanded justice for Bugatti and other recent victims of extrajudicial killings.

Last March 20 [2014], human rights advocates held a protest action in front of the Department of Justice, calling for an end to extrajudicial killings, among other human rights violations. They also called on President Aquino to step down from the presidency if he is unable to address the killings.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, in an ambush interview last March 20 [2014], told that Karapatan has yet to inform her of the details of the reported killings of activists. De Lima said the cases would need to be evaluated by the committee formed by virtue of Administrative Order No. 35 if these are indeed cases of extrajudicial killings before it is assigned to special investigation teams. “But on my level right now, i do not know about those (cases). I have not heard of those,” De Lima said.

Photo © Karapatan /