Release of farm worker’s remains sought

Published January 7, 2021, 1:08 PM

by Raymund Antonio

A human rights group has called on the police and military to release the body of a female farm worker who was killed during a Dec. 17 shootout in Baras, Rizal.


According to Karapatan, the Baras Municipal Police Station has refused to release Vilma Salabao’s remains to her bereaved family.

Salabao was one of five farm workers in a private mango farm in Barangay San Juan who had been tagged as communist rebels and shot dead by authorities.

The group identified the other slain farm workers based on morgue records as Wesley Obmerga, Carlito Zonio, and Jhonatan and Niño Alberga.

They were killed when joint police and military operatives went to the area to serve the warrant of arrest against Antonio Cule, an alleged finance officer of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippine (CPP).

“We call on the police and the military to release Salbao’s remains and to let her family grieve for her death,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

Karapatan’s local chapter in Southern Tagalog had sent a fact-finding mission to look into the killings of the five farm workers in Baras.

Families of the four men had already recovered their bodies and buried them, but Salabao’s body remains at the morgue under police custody.