After Celso Pojas, chair of the peasant group Farmers Association of Davao City (FADC) and spokesperson of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Southern Mindanao, woke up early morning of Thursday, he quickly readied himself to leave for Compostela town in Compostela Valley Province to check on the situation of the lumad displaced by the military’s massive anti-insurgency campaign.
He, however, never made it there. He was stopped by three bullets of caliber .45 pistol few minutes after he bought sticks of cigarette from a sari-sari store in Barangay Maa here, just about 30 meters away from their office.
The bullets of the two unidentified persons, onboard a motorcycle, pierced through the right torso of Pojas and crushed the bones of his left arm. Medics from 911 declared him dead on the spot few minutes after he was attacked at around 6:00 am.
His colleagues at FADC said they were preparing to leave for Compostela town and were discussing recent developments concerning the lumad evacuees—particularly the sudden appearance of soldiers that caused the evacuees in the town gymnasim to panic—over coffee when Pojas excused himself to buy cigarette.
Few minutes after he went out of the office, people from FADC heard gunshots and learned later that Pojas has been attacked. He died right by the red gate of their office which is located just by the main road.
Pojas, 45, was the first militant leader in Davao City in recent years who has fallen victim of the strings of extrajudicial killings being blamed to the government. He also the first casualty since the leadership of Armed Forces of the Philippines was bequeathed to Gen. Alexander Yano. In Southern Mindanao , Pojas is victim number 79 while across the country, he was marked as victim number 903.
The military has denied any involvement in the killing. Militants groups and the human rights group Karapatan believe otherwise.
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