[Amid COVID-19 pandemic] Soldiers kill young cultural activist in Bohol

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) strongly condemned the political killing of Marlon Maldos, 25, by alleged members of the 47th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Maldos was shot near Tagbilaran City, Bohol afternoon yesterday as the nation suffers from the COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s failing response to it. KMP National Chairperson Danilo Ramos slams the killing, “Marlon’s murderers are sick and out of humanity. The entire Filipino people is hurting with anxiety, sickness, hunger, and death, yet these state-perpetuated forces continue with their political killing spree.”

Maldos was a choreographer and a peasant advocate from cultural group Bol-anong Artista nga may Diwang Dagohoy (Bansiwag). He led young artists in crafting cultural performances reflecting the conditions and aspirations of poor farmers.

“We wholly attribute this extrajudicial killing to the AFP,” Ramos declares. Maldos has repeatedly reported facing red-tagging and harassment from elements of the 47th IB as he undertook cultural work among his fellow rural youth.

“The government has repeatedly pleaded that any non-essential work be stopped as the nation confronts the COVID-19 disease, even pleading a ceasefire with armed rebels, yet Duterte’s armed forces persist in their wanton killing of unarmed civilians. Is the killing of activists this essential to the regime? Just what kind of evil afflicts these fascist forces that not even a global pandemic made them think twice in killing good-willed young people?” Ramos laments.

“We will not stand by this. We vow to pursue justice for Maldos and all the victims of this fascist regime’s crimes against the people. We plead to all democracy-loving citizen to speak up, especially now as we suffer under Duterte’s militarist failure in addressing this pandemic and all other social ills of our nation. The Filipino people does not deserve this maltreatment,” the peasant leader proclaims.

An artist of the people

A son of farmers, Maldos took interest in cultural work for the people at a young age. He first participated in Bansiwag’s community-based theater workshops in 2011, at 16 years old. Since then, Maldos has continually served his fellow rural poor. He was at the forefront of relief operations and rehabilitation efforts for the victims of the 2013 Bohol earthquake. After the 2014 Yolanda Supertyphoon, he again volunteered in assisting devastated communities in Negros, Samar, and Cebu. In 2017, he began serving as project coordinator of civic organization Women’s Development Center’s livelihood project Integrated Coconut Development Processing Plant (ICDPP) in Maribojoc, Bohol. The ICDPP processed coconut, virgin coconut oil, and coconut sauce made from coconut water and vinear of local farmers.

After the arbitrary arrest of fellow cultural worker and Bansiwag member Alvin Fortaliza last March 17, 2019 under trumped-up charges, Maldos committed more time for the cultural group. He participated in a series of cultural trainings and workshops for students of Manila October last year. That same month, he became a founding convener of Youth for Agroecology, a nation-wide network of agro-ecology advocates. As a youth delegate from Bohol, he shared his rich experience with maximizing culture and the arts in mobilizing the rural youth to address various rural and agricultural issues. He continued his life-long service and cultural work until he was unjustly gunned down yesterday. #

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