On May 28, 2002, suspected elements from the 204th Infantry Brigade headed by Col. Jovito Palparan Jr., shot dead SCMP senior friend Edilberto Napoles Jr, popularly known as Choy. Together with him was Ruel Landicho, a peasant organizer, who faked death to survive with one gunshot wound.
At the early stage of his life, Edilberto Napoles Jr., popularly known as Choy by his fellow SCMers and friends, had seen serving the people as his mission in life. He became an altar boy when he was in his secondary schooling and entered the Missionaries of Faith seminary to fulfill his ambition of becoming a priest. Later, because of poverty, he was forced to go out the seminary and look for a job in Manila to support his family.
He once again pursued his studies in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, where he joined the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines. He became a student leader and led his fellow students to struggle for the continuing repression inside their campus. He was also very active in asserting students right to education by opposing the high cost of education and low allocation to education budget.
Choy was not only a student leader but also an advocate of indigenous people’s right. He was in the forefront in the struggle to stop the mining projects of the big multinational companies in Oriental Mindoro that planed to displace thousands of Mangyan tribes from their ancestral lands. He was also among the peasants in fighting for genuine land reforms.
In May 7, 2001, the government deployed the Armed Forces of the Philippine’s 204th Infantry Brigade headed by the militarist Col. Jovito Palparan Jr. This was the government’s response to the people’s cry for genuine land reforms and respect to the indigenous people’s rights. There has been lots of human rights violation since the massive deployment of the 6 battalions of military troops.
Choy was one among those who exposed and opposed the human rights violation of the military. He was very active in the campaign to fight against militarisation in the province of Oriental Mindoro. Because of this he was included in the military’s Order of Battle.
On the evening of May 28, 2002, he was brutally shot by the 2 elements of the 204th brigade death squad. Six bullets were found in different parts of his body including one in his head.
At the age of 26, Choy’s life ended due to the all-out military operations and policy of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. His bloody body fell onto the ground, his fist clenched, struggling to survive to continue the fight for justice and peace for the people and for his beloved country.
Human rights violations brought by extensive militarisation in the countryside have severely affected people’s lives. Oftentimes, innocent children, poor peasant and workers, and even human rights advocates are brutally victimized by militarisation. Such is the case of Mindoro Oriental where human rights violations are perpetuated by the 204th Infantry Brigade and Col. Jovito Palparan Jr. with the help from the local police. The merciless killings and violations of human rights have become the common occurrence in the province once dubbed as the “Most Peaceful”. Since the deployment of 6 battalion troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), 17 were summarily executed, 13 of which are Bayan Muna coordinators, a progressive political party. There were also 242 cases of military abuses affecting 1,008 individuals and 525 families. All of these crimes happened in just one year.
What is happening now in Oriental Mindoro is not isolated from the situation of different regions in the Philippines such as Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon, Northern Luzon and many others. There have been 964 cases of human rights violations (41,771 victims). Of these cases, physical harassment and assaults in the picket line account for 356 cases with 10, 344 victims, 131 cases of unjustified arrest with 522 victims, 71 cases of killings with 121 victims and 31 incidents of indiscriminate firing affecting 3,679 people. All of these happened within the 2 years of presidency under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Militarisation has devastated the lives of our brothers and sisters in the countryside and has sown fear and poverty among the people.
The perpetrators are powerful and armed. It is always easy for them to take away innocent lives. This is the reason why human rights advocates, school and church-based organizations, institutions and concerned individuals are now joining hands to form a support group and advocacy network that aims to extend support to the victims and families of human rights violations and to support their struggle to end militarisation in the countryside.
We NEED your help! The fight for Choy is a fight for all the victims of human rights violation resulting from militarisation. We are asking you to help us pressure the Philippine government to immediately pull out the 204th Infantry Brigade in the small island of Oriental Mindoro by spending a few minutes writing to the E-mail addresses below or sending postcard.
Please write a brief letter including these points:
Please send your letter to: