Rex Hangadon, a 23-year old Lumad farmer, was shot by the 23rd Infantry Batallion (IB) of the Philippine Army as he was resting in a hut in Sitio Bulak, Lower Olave, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte at around 2 o’clock in the afternoon yesterday, September 15, 2018. His father who was with him during the incident remains missing. The safety of the elder Hangadon is uncertain as reports from the ground stated that shots were fired within the vicinity today.
After the ruthless killing, the 23rd IB tagged Hangadon as a member of the New People’s Army (NPA) and advised the Barangay Council to claim his body this morning. They also asserted that Hangadon’s body yielded a firearm, an allegation that was refuted by his companions. Just like them, Hangadon was at the communal farm manually stripping abaca fiber.
The community transported his body to Sitio Asda, where the police and an ambulance were waiting to bring his remains to Cristo Rei Funeral Parlor.
His mother is heavily traumatized by the ordeal. The entire family is in a state of fear that if they would come in contact with his body, they would be automatically relegated as NPA supporters by the Philippine Army. Hangadon, lifeless as he is, remains at the mercy of the whims of the Philippine Army while his family is being prevented from grieving properly.
As of now, about 190 individuals from 42 families have left Sitio Bulak, the same sitio where bullets from the 23rd IB pierced through Hangadon. They have taken refuge in the Multi-Purpose Hall of Sitio Upper Olave
The precedence of military rule over civilian rule in Mindanao has resulted in the normalization of killing Lumad farmers and the constant state of terror among ordinary citizens. Suffice it to say, Martial Law has emboldened the Philippine Army to kill indiscriminately and point accusing fingers at the people who bear the burden of their repressive and intimidating presence.
We call for justice for Rex Hangadon. We call for the end of Martial Law in Mindanao. The rise of the death toll, increase in the number of internally displaced indigenous peoples, and the growing prevalence of human rights violations even against human rights defenders (HRDs) themselves indicate that Martial Law is not only untenable but also detrimental to the people of Mindanao.