May 17, 2019

On Apr. 22, 72-year-old Bernardino “Toto” Patigas was shot dead by two gunmen riding a motorcycle on his way home. It was sundown, at a public area (Escalante National High School premises), the gunmen were reportedly unmasked, and there were many witnesses: a clear act of silencing. Out of fear, none of the eye witnesses have gone to the authorities to identify the killers.

As we wrote in a previous article, Patigas’ murder is part of a long string of activists and farmers being murdered for their political beliefs. (Read: In the killing fields of Negros, the lives of farmers and activists mean nothing) Patigas, a councilor seeking for reelection, was an outspoken activist for farmer’s rights who survived the September 1985 Escalante massacre.

Despite his death, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported on May 17 that Patigas still managed to win his bid for reelection. His brother Abraham substituted him—but it must be noted that his brother only decided to be his substitute two days before the elections. This implies that either Abraham’s team was very effective in informing all the residents or that some residents, not knowing Toto Patigas’ substitute, continued to vote for him anyway.

Either way, “winning the election showed how the residents loved his brother,” PDI reports Abraham saying. With the number of human rights abuses that have occurred in the province within the past year (aside from Toto Patigas’ assasination, recent alleged executions include 14 farmers in Canlaon City and the towns of Manjuyod and Sta. Catalina who were killed on Mar. 30), we hope that Abraham continues what his brother has started.

 

Featured photo courtesy of Inquirer.net

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