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Priest, judge slain, as spate of RP killings remains unsolved

January 16, 2008 12:38am
JUDGES KILLED SINCE 1999

Hon. ROBERTO NAVIDAD
January 14, 2008
Regional Trial Court Branch 32, Calbayog City

Hon. ORLANDO VELASCO
July 27, 2007
Regional Trial Court Branch 63, Bayawan City, Negros Oriental

Hon. NATHANIEL PATTUGALAN
January 19, 2007
Municipal Trial Court in Baggao, Cagayan

Hon. SAHARA SILONGAN
December 3, 2006
Regional Trial Court Branch 15, Cotabato City

Hon. HENRICK F. GINGOYON
December 31, 2005
Regional Trial Court Branch 117, Pasay City

Hon. ESTRELLITA M. PAAS
September 23, 2005
Pasay City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 44

Hon. MILNAR T. LAMMAWIN, 51
August 9, 2004
Regional Trial Court Branch 25, Tabuk, Kalinga

Hon. PATERNO G. TIAMSON
February 21, 2004
Regional Trial Court Branch 69, Binangonan, Rizal

Hon. VOLTAIRE Y. ROSALES
June 10, 2004
Regional Trial Court Branch 83 of Tanauan, Batangas

Hon. PINERA A. BIDEN
May 17, 2003
Municipal Circuit Trial Court of Kabugao, Apayao

Hon. EUGENIO R. VALLES
April 25, 2002
Regional Trial Court Branch 3, Nabunturan, Compostela Valley

Hon. OSCAR GABY M. USON
September 27, 2002
Regional Trial Court Branch 52 in Tayug, Pangasinan

Hon. ARISTON L. RUBIO
October 31, 2001
Regional Trial Court Branch 17, Batac, Ilocos Norte

Hon. HASSAN T. IBNOHAIJIL
February 5, 2001
Regional Trial Court Branch 45, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro

Hon. CELSO F. LORENZO, SR.
November 1, 1999
Regional Trial Court Branch 1 in Borongan, Eastern Samar

Source: Supreme Court




A priest in Mindanao, and a judge in Visayas were killed by unidentified gunmen on Tuesday and Monday, respectively, amid the spate of extra-judicial killings in the Philippines that remains unsolved by the government.

Rey Roda of the Oblate of Mary Immaculate was killed Tuesday night in Tawi-Tawi’s South Ubian town. He had been doing missionary work for the last ten years in the said province.

Based on initial reports that reached GMANews.TV, the priest was praying in a chapel in Likud Tabawan village, when a group of men gunned him down at about 8:30 p.m. The men reportedly tried to abduct Roda, but the priest was shot when he fought with the perpetrators.

Roda's colleagues said that the more than 50-year-old priest, who was campaigning for peace and development in Mindanao was well-loved in Tawi-Tawi.

"His death was unthinkable. He helped a lot of people there, he had many scholars, mostly Muslims. He was very vocal about peace and development issues in the area, but he did not have enemies," said Fr. Jonathan Domingo.

In 2006, the non-government Asian Human Rights Commission said that there had been 23 priests, pastors, and churchmen who were killed under the Arroyo administration.

In 2007, there were at least three other priests who were reported killed by unidentified gunmen. They were Basilio Bautista of the Iglesia Filipina Reform Group, who died in Surigao del Sur province, Indonesian priest Fransiskus Madhu, who was slain in Kalinga province, and Catholic priest Florante Rigonan killed in Ilocos Norte.

15 judges killed

On Monday night, unidentified man shot dead Judge Roberto Navidad of the Calbayog City Regional Trial Court in Samar province.

The Supreme Court condemned the crime, saying that Navidad was the 15th judge killed since 1999. Fourteen of the deaths happened under the Arroyo administration (see sidebar).

“The entire Judiciary condemns the killing of Judge Navidad. I am urging the authorities to exert their best efforts for the immediate apprehension of those responsible for Judge Navidad’s death," Chief Justice Reynato Puno said in a press statement.

Initial investigation showed that Navidad had just bought medicine from a drugstore along Rosales Boulevard corner Gomez Street and was starting the engine of his black Nissan Patrol SUV ( TPL-911) when the gunman attacked.

UN rapporteur Philip Alston earlier urged the Arroyo administration to stop further killings and ensure that those responsible for the crimes are brought to justice.

Alston’s call echoed a recent demand by the US Senate that the Philippines prosecute human rights violators including soldiers before it could receive additional military aid from the United States.

In his report, Alston claimed that ''in some parts of the country, the armed forces have followed a deliberate strategy of systematically hunting down the leaders of leftist organizations."

Alston visited the Philippines in February and issued a preliminary report at the time in which he said the military was in a state of denial about its role in the deaths of about 800 opposition activists over the past six years.

Theories dismissed

Alston likewise dismissed theories that the killings were carried out by communist groups to weed out spies and discredit the government.

But Armed Forces chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon criticized Alton’s report for being “half-baked."

He said Alston only spent 10 days in the Philippines before he came out with the report that solely blamed the military for the killings.

“I wish Mr. Alston had better and more complete sources. He was here for 10 days and suddenly he’s an expert in human rights in the Philippines, much more an expert in insurgency in the Philippines," Esperon said.

He said the AFP never denied that some soldiers were involved in extrajudicial killings.

However, Esperon said the admission didn’t mean that Alston could all together blame the military, and conclude that the AFP was not doing anything to solve the killings and punish the perpetrators.

In December, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said that the resolution of the killings was a priority of her administration. She said Task Force Usig had continued investigating and solving the killings.

President Arroyo said there had been a decrease in such killings in 2007. She said least 45 criminal cases on the killings had already been filed in court.

This only showed that “the criminal justice system is working on these very important cases," according to Arroyo. - GMANews.TV
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