We cry out for justice for Engineer Fidela “Delle” Salvador, staff of activist NGOs CDPC and CORDIS – an engineer of the people, a woman and a mother, who was killed by troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in a Northern Luzon Command-led military operation in Lacub, Abra participated in mainly by the 41st Infantry Battalion deployed in the area.
Aside from Engr. Delle, Noel Viste – another civilian of Poblacion, Lacub was killed in the said military operation. Noel Viste was among the 24 civilians who were coerced by the 41st IB as human shields in the conduct of their operation.
Engr. Delle was on a monitoring visit for various socio-economic projects implement by CORDIS in Lacub when she was killed. Engr. Delle is a civilian and a non-combatant. She had dedicated most of her life, her skills and expertise in bringing much-needed services to the neglected, far-flung communities in the Cordillera. She was a staunch advocate of indigenous peoples’ rights, a strong believer in peace and human rights.
Engr. Delle could have chosen a life of comfort but chose a life of service and sacrifice. Only a few are willing to brave the challenges of development work in rural areas, and Engr. Delle was one of them. She worked with various activist NGOs for over a decade since 1990, such as the Mining Communities Development Center and the Women Workers Program. At the height of the anti-open pit mining struggle of the Ibaloi and Kankanaey peoples in Itogon in the 1990s, she helped organise women, youth and elders affected by the open-pit mining operations. She was “Auntie Delle” to many of the youth. She also helped organise poor peasants in Mankayan starting in 2009.
Engr. Delle was an active church member of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) since her youth, and later a church worker with the Cordillera Ecumenical Movement for Action and Transformation (CEMAT).
With CORDIS, Engr. Delle helped implement the Philippine Tropical Cyclone Emergency Response Project (PTCERP) and Philippine Tropical Cyclone Shelter and Livelihood Project, relief and livelihood projects for communities affected by supertyphoons Ondoy and Pepeng. CORDIS, the people’s organizations and communities that have addressed the needs of the people have long been subjects of political persecution by the State security forces and State national internal security policies like the current Oplan Bayanihan. While these projects serve to address the abandonment and neglect of the Philippine government of the people’s needs, the people and organizations have been surveilled, threatened and harasssed, politically vilified as terrorists, and now extrajudicially killed.
The 41st IB and the Northern Luzon Command must be made accountable for the extrajudicial killing of Engr. Fidela Salvador and Noel Viste. We reiterate our urgent call for a stop to the military operations in Lacub, Abra, as civilians are being targeted by the AFP.
We reiterate our call for the resumption of the formal peace talks between Philippine Government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to address the roots of the armed conflict. We strongly demand that past agreements be respected in full and implemented especially the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). We continue to appeal to the local government units and government officials of Abra to call for a stop to the military operations and pullout of the 41st IB in Abra and troops of the Northern Luzon Command. We appeal to everyone who believe in peace, in human rights and life to support these calls.