Leader of ‘Pablo’ survivors in Baganga killed; Governor orders probe

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/04 March) – A community leader of the group of typhoon Pablo survivors that barricaded the regional office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development  (DSWD) here last week was shot dead Monday evening in her hometown in Baganga, Davao Oriental.

The victim was identified as Cristina Morales Jose, a barangay councilor of Binondo, Baganga and a community leader of Bayan Muna and Barug Katawhan, a group of Pablo survivors from Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental.

Mariel Moralde, spokesperson of Anakbayan UP Mindanao said Jose was shot dead by unidentified motorcycle-riding assailants at around 6 p.m. Monday after attending a barangay council session.

Moralde said Jose was scheduled to come to this city on Tuesday (March 5) to report the alleged harassment she and her companions who joined the protest action in Davao City last week experienced in the hands of the  barangay chair and members of the 67th Infantry Battalion.

No detail of the alleged harassment was made available.

Davao Oriental Governor has ordered a “thorough investigation” on the killing of  Jose, whom she described as “very close” to her.

Malanyaon told MindaNews Jose was “my supporter since the start of my political career.”

The 67th IB, which is based in Baganga, condemned Jose’s “senseless killing” as an act which can only be done by criminals.

“Our sympathy goes to the bereaved family. The military will assist the police in the ongoing investigation that hopefully would lead to justice and speedy resolution of the case,” said 2Lt. Rowena Abayon, information officer of the Civil-Military Operations of the 67th IB.

During the barricade, Barug demanded for the release of 10,000 sacks of rice from the DSWD as promised by Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman during their January 15 barricade in Montevista town, Compostela Valley.

But the DSWD refused to release the rice saying Barug did not submit a distribution list with the names and addresses of the recipients. The group argued the local government units already have such list.

On the second day (Feb. 26) of the barricade, some 4,000 protesters destroyed the gate of the DSWD regional office and took away relief goods from the compound, saying they “confiscated” what were intended for Pablo victims.

However, police and soldiers dispersed them and retrieved the goods. A number of protesters were injured in the melee that ensued. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)