Two-fold death for the poor: The killing of urban poor leader in the pandemic
On May 28, urban poor leader and organizer Carlito “Karletz” Badion was found dead near a highway in Ormoc, Leyte, allegedly killed by the state troops.
Being the secretary-general of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay), the group reported that Badion was forcefully taken by the elements of the state two days before the body was found. Before, he was repeatedly receiving death threats and suffered constant red-tagging.
The first contentious fold was the killing of Badion while the Anti-Terror bill was being maneuvered in Congress. The notion that Badion is an active dissenter and community organizer validates the “anti-insurgency” campaign under the aforementioned bill, even if it is not yet legitimate.
“Sa buong bansa, talamak ang harassment, panloloko, pananakot, pananakit, pang-aaresto kasama ng gawa-gawang kaso at ang pagpatay sa mga organisador. Hindi naging ligtas si Karletz sa mga berdugo, at tiyak sa bagong panukalang patakaran, sinuman sa atin, lahat ng karaniwang tao ay hindi rin ligtas,” Kadamay stated, stressing that Badion’s death will be in vain if the bill continues to railroad.
Sandigan ng Mag-aaral para sa Sambayanan (SAMASA) PUP condemns the killing, standing in solidarity with Kadamay in their call for the government to channel all the efforts on battling the health and socio-economic implications of the pandemic COVID-19 instead of silencing dissent.
“Nagkukumahog ang rehimeng Duterte na mapigilan ang kanyang mga kritiko lalo pa at kitang-kita na ang kawalan nitong aksyon at inutil na pagtugon sa problema ng bansa sa gitna ng isang krisis pangkalusugan,” SAMASA — PUP said in their statement.
The second fold exposes the comparable fate of the urban poor sector and the devastating case of Badion.
On the day before the body of Badion was found, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) red-tagged and harassed the relief volunteers and residents of Pandi, Bulacan, due to the NTF-ELCAC’s perceived “political acts.”
Robert Lunzaga, a community leader in the Bulacan, narrated to The Diplomat how ruthless is the treatment of the local military elements, being one of the distributors of the aid. The local military will interrogate community leaders or members of the Kadamay, and will ask them to “surrender” so then would they receive the supposed aid from the government.
Instead of giving more attention to the vulnerable poor sector, they have been treated with militarism that further worsens their existing conditions. State troops have its marred relationship not only with the urban poor but also with other marginalized sectors.
The military elements will also take over as the new distributors of aid in its second tranche as announced by President Rodrigo Duterte on May 21. Kadamay condemned the administration for putting another layer to the already flawed system of distribution.
“LGUs, despite problems have already made strides with the distribution but the the DSWD and the national government have presented problems with the final listing, and by transferring responsibility to law enforcement, it will introduce an unfamiliar body into the process which in itself is rife with corruption and lack of accountability,” they said in a statement.
The worsening condition of the urban poor in the grip of the military reflects the killing of Badion. As Kadamay asserted, primarily, the militaristic approach of the state and its exploitation will kill residents of the urban poor faster than the touch of COVID-19.
Groups and individuals spearheaded by Kadamay launched a candle-lighting protest yesterday outside each of their own homes to condemn the recent killing.
They remember Badion as a vital figure of the urban poor, being a key person in the successful Occupy Pabahay programs, with his continuous fights from Duterte’s anti-poor drug war to the impending demolition in numerous community barricades.
*This article was published on May 30, 2020, two days after the death of Carlito Badion.