Philippines: Killing of Ms. Elisa Badayos and Mr. Eleuterio Moises

Urgent Appeal

PHL 002 / 1217 / OBS 116
Murder / Murder attempt
December 1, 2017

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Philippines.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the killing of Ms. Elisa Badayos, Coordinator of the human rights organisation Karapatan in Negros Oriental, and Mr. Eleuterio Moises, member of the local peasant organisation Mantapi Ebwan Farmers’ Association, as well as about the shooting at Ms. Carmen Matarlo, Coordinator of the youth organization Kabataan Partylist in Cebu, as they were investigating land rights abuses in Bayawan, Negros Oriental province.

According to the information received, on November 28, 2017, at around 11 am, a 30-member fact-finding mission led by Ms. Elisa Badayos arrived in Barangay San Ramon, Bayawan city, to investigate alleged land rights abuses in the area [1]. Upon their arrival, they were blocked and harassed by around five or six individuals who reportedly belonged to the private “army” of Bayawan Mayor Pryde Henry Teves and used by the Gaudiels, a powerful landlord family in the area and known allies of Mayor Teves. The armed men inquired as to the destination and the purpose of the mission, while aiming their shotgun at the team’s vehicle. The team was eventually allowed to proceed.

At around 2:30 pm on the same day, the investigating team split, and while one group continued to conduct interviews and case documentation, a second group left to go to Nangka Barangay Hall, Bayawan city, to file a police report at the local station to denounce the harassment the fact-finding team had been victims of earlier. This groups was composed of: Ms. Elisa Badayos, Ms. Carmen Matarl, Mr. Patrick Torres, Executive Director of Farmers Development Center (FARDEC) in Cebu, Mr. Eleuterio Moises, and Mr. Angel Trocio, member of the Women’s Resource Center in the Visayas.

About 10 minutes later, Ms. Elisa Badayos, Mr. Eleuterio Moises, and Ms. Carmen Matarlo, who were all riding the same motorcycle, were shot at by unknown men on another motorcycle. Ms. Elisa Badayos and Mr. Eleuterio Moises were pronounced dead on arrival at the Bayawan hospital. Ms. Carmen Matarlo, who sustained gunshots wounds at her shoulder, was brought to Bayawan District Hospital before being transferred to Dumaguete. She is now in stable condition.

The Observatory strongly condemns the killing of Ms. Elisa Badayos and Mr. Eleuterio Moises, as well as the attempted murder against Ms. Carmen Matarlo, which seems to have targeted them because of their legitimate human rights activities, in a context of increasing insecurity for human rights defenders in the Philippines. In particular, President Duterte has repeatedly threatened to kill human rights defenders. The latest such instance was on August 16, when he suggested that human rights activists were “obstructing justice” and urged police to “shoot them” [2].

The Observatory calls upon the authorities in the Philippines to immediately order an impartial, independent, transparent, and effective investigation into the murder of Ms. Elisa Badayos and Mr. Eleuterio Moises as well as into the shooting of Ms. Carmen Matarlo, and to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in the country.

Background information:

Armed individuals have reportedly been deployed in the area of Barangay San Ramon since 2015 and have been responsible for various incidents of harassment and threats against farmers and peasant organisations that support the peasants’ claims over their land rights.

The land guarded by those armed individuals covers more than 100 hectares and is an area that the Gaudiel family reportedly plans to grab. According to locals, the Gaudiels presented a tax declaration proving that they had claims to the land, but no title was presented because the land has long been classified as public. The area has been declared “alienable and disposable” by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which means farmers can apply to till the land.

When the Gaudiels first claimed ownership over the land, farmers and organisations sought the help of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) to facilitate its distribution and place the land under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). Despite the land being clearly declared publicly owned, the Gaudiels continue to cordon the land by putting in armed individuals to guard the premises and intimidate the peasant community in the area. The residents however have refused to leave.

Ms. Elisa Badayos along with several other organisations started investigating abuses and organised the peasant community in the area to oppose land grabbing and claim their land rights.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in the Philippines urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Carmen Matarlo, Mr. Patrick Torres, Mr. Angel Trocio, all members of the mission they were belonging too as well as all human rights defenders in the Philippines;

ii. Order an immediate, impartial, independent, transparent, and effective investigation into the murder of Ms. Elisa Badayos and Mr. Eleuterio Moises, as well as into the shooting at Ms. Carmen Matarlo, in order to identify those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and apply them the sanctions provided by the law;

iii. Provide adequate reparation and compensation to the relatives of Ms. Elisa Badayos and Mr. Eleuterio Moises;

iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment and intimidation against all human rights defenders in the Philippines, and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrances;

v. Comply with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1 and 12.2;

vi. More generally, ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights instruments ratified by the Philippines.


· H.E. Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Republic of the Philpinnes, Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968, E-mail: or send message through
· Hon. Jesus Dureza, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Fax: +63 (2) 638 2216, Email:,
· Ret. Maj. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana, Secretary, Department of National Defense, Fax: +63(2) 982-5600, Email:,
· Hon. Vitaliano Aguirre, Secretary, Department of Justice, Fax: (+632) 521-1614, Email:
· Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights, Fax: (+632) 929 0102, Email:
· H.E. Mr. Evan P. Garcia, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 716 19 32
· Embassy of the Philippines in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: (+32) 02 345 64 25, E-mail:

Please also write to the embassy of the Philippines in your respective country.

Geneva-Paris, December 1, 2017

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail:
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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