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CPA STATEMENT ON THE KILLING OF ANOTHER ACTIVIST: RAFAEL MARKUS BANGIT

Published by MAC on 2006-00-09

CPA STATEMENT ON THE KILLING OF ANOTHER ACTIVIST: RAFAEL MARKUS BANGIT

9th JUNE 2006

It is with intense outrage and anguish for us to learn that one of our colleagues, Rafael Markus Bangit was gunned down, together with a bystander, Gloria Casuga, last night, June 8, in San Isidro, Echague, Isabela. Days prior to the incident, Markus noticed that he was being tailed by sinister-looking men while he was in Tabuk with his family.

We cry for justice for the never-ending assassination of activists and innocent civilians. No amount of lip service and empty promises from the President, military, and other government officials is acceptable. The political killings must stop and justice must be served to all the victims and their families. The state has become a mass murderer, killing all who threaten it with impunity, and should be made accountable for its gross violation of human rights. When will this state ever respect the sanctity of life and the right of its opponents to live? The worsening political repression will only serve to ignite more unrest, and the government will soon find itself crumbling under the weight of the people's wrath.

Markus was born on October 24, 1959 (47 years old) and a leader of the Malbong tribe of Tomiangan, Tabuk, Kalinga. He was married to Augustina Pito Bangit and had four children, the eldest is 15 years old while the youngest is 5 years old. He was a doting father and a loving husband.

At the time of his death, Markus was the Coordinator of the Elders Desk of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) and also of the Bodong Pongors Association (BPO), a federation of Cordillera tribal elders affiliated with the CPA.

Markus was also one of the senior members of the CPA regional secretariat and had been playing the role of a big brother and confidante to junior secretariat members. Since August 2004, he had been based in the CPA regional office in Baguio, while his family remained in Tabuk, Kalinga.

For more than three decades, Markus Bangit devoted his time, energy, and skills to the strengthening of the Cordillera mass movement. He started as a very young activist in the mid-1970s, when his village was under threat of being submerged in one of the four megadams that the Marcos dictatorship was planning to build on the Chico river. He joined the militant opposition to the Chico Dam Project, actively participating in the land defense activities of his people whenever he was home in Tomiangan, and in the public information and protest activities of Kalinga college students in Baguio whenever he was in the city.

Markus continued in the path of activism, mainly within Kalinga, and became the Chair of CPA-Kalinga from 1995 to 1998. He became Secretary-General of Bayan Muna-Kalinga in 2001 and is now its Vice Chair.

From 1994 to 2000, Markus also became active in local government, first as the Secretary then as a Councilman of Barangay Dupag, the barangay which has administrative jurisdiction over Tomiangan.

Inspite of his relative youth, he was very much respected by the elders of his tribe. This respect grew as Markus displayed increasing skill in the settlement of inter-tribal disputes and deepening knowledge of the bodong (peacepact) system. Eventually, Markus became a peacepact holder himself.

With the death of Rafael Markus Bangit, the Cordillera Peoples Alliance and its allied organizations - indeed, the Cordillera mass movement as a whole - lost one of its most highly committed and valuable leaders.

We denounce the killing of Markus Bangit both as a political crime and a crime against humanity. It is another barbaric act by a government that perpetuates itself in power through the might of the gunbarrel. Many others among us activists remain under heavy surveillance and in imminent danger of assassination by the death squads of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's government.

We demand justice, and we demand respect for human rights. We call upon the people to make their voices heard and cry for a stop to all political killings and to all violations of the fundamental human rights and freedoms.

Let us persevere in struggling for the transformation of our society into a just, democratic, and peaceful one. Let no tyrant continue to rule and subvert the will of our people!

CORDILLERA PEOPLES ALLIANCE
References:
Joan Carling, CPA Chairperson
Windel Bolinget, CPA Secretary General
074-442-2115

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