CONTEND Statement on Killing of Dr. Rodrigo Catayong
6:15 a.m., Sunday morning, last November 5, 2006, Dr. Rodrigo Catayong, 55, was about to hear mass with his wife when two bonnet-wearing assailants shot him dead. Police reports disclose that he suffered eight gunshot wounds – four in the face, twice in the chest, once in the neck and back. Seeing her husband bloodied and lifeless, Marcela, 54, collapsed. On a beautiful Sunday morning and about to give thanks to God for her husband’s 55th birthday just two days earlier, witnessing the gruesome assassination of her husband must have been the last thing on her mind.
For everyone who knew Dr. Catayong, his manner of death must have been totally unexpected as well. They knew that he had his convictions like many who pursue a life of the mind. He was an officer of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers and was elected as Chairperson of Katungod-Eastern Samar, a provincial human rights organization. However, he was also a fulltime Professor with a doctorate degree and expertise in sericulture at the Eastern Samar State University. Like many of us in the academe, he also served in the administration of the state university as the College and University Secretary. For sure, overseeing the Board of Regents meetings and running the day-to-day affairs of the College as Secretary occupied most of his time over and above the teaching duties he may have had. That is why when his name was included in a divulged anti-communist hitlist along with one public school elementary teacher, two other professors from the state university, a local media man, a policeman and leaders of progressive party-list organizations, even a town mayor; no one believed anyone would pull such sinister designs against him and much less mark him as the first target.
But this is the madness that pervades the Philippine countryside under Arroyo’s all-out-war against so-called communists. Almost 800 have been victimized by this “dirty war” since the beginning of her term. In the last few months, these state-sponsored liquidation squads have taken on a more brazen countenance. Undeterred by international criticism, they have felled bishops and priests (Bishop Alberto Ramento), lawyers (Atty. Felicito Dacut), and now teachers and professors. We already count eight among our ranks who have been killed by these death squads (Leima Fortu, Victoria Samonte, Gabriel Casuga, John Lingkuran, Rodrigo Apolinar, Napoleon Pornasdoro, Danilo Hagosojos and now Dr. Rodrigo Catayong). Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño remain missing months after they were abducted. What is common among all of them is their unwavering conviction for truth and justice.
This week alone, armed men barged into Emerlito Dizon’s home in Zambales and shot him in front of his wife and kids. The peasant leader managed to survive and is now recuperating in a local hospital. Last November 1, policemen raided a convent of the Good Shepherd Nuns in Agusan del Sur without any search warrant.
The blood and gore of GMA’s policy to “neutralize” dissent has reached our courts, our churches, our convents and our schools. Unless we reason and rage against this madness, there will come a time when no profession will be safe and no place can be a sanctuary for freedom-loving Filipinos under the iron-hand rule of an illegitimate president hell-bent in holding on to power.
Hustisya para kay Dr. Rodrigo Catayong!
Patalsikin si Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo