#JusticeForChadBooc – An urgent call to end red-tagging
Chad Booc, a prominent activist and volunteer teacher for Lumad communities in Mindanao, together with four others were killed during what the military claimed was a 15-minute armed encounter in New Bataan, Davao de Oro Thursday night (February 24).
In a press release, Captain Mark Anthony Tito, chief of the Division Public Affairs Office of the 10th Infantry Division accused Booc and the four other casualties of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA) – the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
The military’s narrative that the five were killed during a legitimate encounter was countered by Marco Valbuena, CCP’s chief information officer. According to Valbuena, their local NPA unit in the area affirmed that no encounter actually took place.
Booc earned his degree in computer science cum laude from the University of the Philippines. According to a feature story about him published on Rappler, he decided to forgo lucrative opportunities in the private sector to be a math teacher for the Lumads. Gelejurain Ngujo II, the other identified casualty, was also another volunteer teacher who is a graduate of Liceo de Davao College.
The apparent cold-blooded murder of Booc and Ngujo comes on the heels of the unlawful detention of Natividad “Naty” Castro, who is also serving the Lumad community as a volunteer doctor.
Given these events, one can’t help but wonder if anyone would still be willing to serve in the barrios as doctors and teachers given the great risk. And also, it is ironic that these attacks on people serving local communities happened at a time when the nation is commemorating the supposed restoration of Philippine democracy in 1986.