24.04.2019

Statement on the murder of Bernadino “Toto” Patigas

In the afternoon of April 22, 72-year old human rights advocate and city councilor Bernadino “Toto” Patigas was killed in his hometown Escalante City, Negros Occidental. Patigas was a human rights worker of the North Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (NNAHRA).

Tay "Toto" Bernardino Patigas © Efren Ricalde

Tay Toto (Bernadino) Patigas was a dedicated human rights advocate, a dear colleague and friend, a reliable one in belief and commitment. For decades he had worked for human rights and social justice on the Island of Negros and has been the Secretary General of the North Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (NNAHRA). In 2016 he became councilor in his hometown Escalante City, Negros Occidental. In this position, he fought for the setup of human rights desks in every Barangay in Escalante City.

As human rights defender, he had survived the Escalante Massacre under the Marcos dictatorship in 1985. Throughout his activism, he was repeatedly threatened, harassed, and slapped with fabricated charges. In 2018, his picture was publicly posted along with other human rights activists who were vilified as alleged members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA). Still, Tay Toto went on. He continued even at the age of 72.

Two days ago, on April 22 at around 4.30 pm, Tay Toto was riding his motorcycle when he was brutally killed on his way home. In broad daylight his perpetrators shot and finished him off.

The death of Tay Toto is a great loss for those who worked with him and whom he served. His dedication and perseverance remain an encouragement to continue fighting for human rights and social justice!

His murder adds to the worsening, alarming and deeply troubling human rights situation in Negros. On October 20, 2018 nine sugar cane farmers were killed in the “Sagay 9 massacre”. The farmers had struggled peacefully for land to till. On November 6, 2018 human rights lawyer Benjamin ‘Ben’ Ramos was killed in Kabankalan City. He had assisted many farmers with pro-bono legal advice and fought legal battles for victims of human rights violations in court. Among his clients were the families of the victims of the “Sagay 9 massacre”. On December 27, 2018 six people, including former and active activists, were killed in a joint military and police operations in Guihulngan City and Sta. Catalina town. On March 30, 2019 fourteen people, farmers, activists and lay people were killed in Canlaon City, Manjuyod and Sta. Catalina town in what police called a legitimate operation and human rights groups call a massacre.

Under the Duterte administration human right groups count 65 political killings on the Island of Negros alone, among them 40 farmers. Tay Toto is the latest of them. Activists face repeated threats and harassment. The latest came just a few hours after Tay Toto was killed: in a text message leaders of Bayan-Negros, Karapatan, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in Negros were threatened to be the next to be killed.

We urge the Duterte administration to end the killings, to hold the perpetrators accountable and to ensure the protection of human rights defenders and political activists!

Stop the Killings!

Justice for Tay Toto!

Justice for all victims of political killings!

 

The philippinenbüro e.V. was founded in 1987. It is an independent socio-political information center which informs about current social and political developments in the Philippines and holds close relation to its Philippine partners. The philippinenbüro e.V. is a member of the Action Network Human Rights – Philippines and is based in Cologne, Germany.