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Paramilitary gunman shoots Filipino indigenous youth dead

Obillo Bay-ao, 19, had just returned home after fleeing village following paramilitary threats in July

Paramilitary gunman shoots Filipino indigenous youth dead

Schoolmates of slain indigenous youth Obillo Bay-ao protest in Manila at a national conference of tribes and other minorities. (Photo by Christian Yamzon)

September 7, 2017

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Indigenous youths holding a national conference in Manila on Sept. 6 have protested against the killing of a 19-year-old student by paramilitary soldiers in the southern island of Mindanao.

Rius Valle of Save Our Schools (SOS) Network in Mindanao said Obillo Bay-ao was shot Sept. 5 while tending a small cornfield in Talaingod, a highland community rocked by conflict. He died hours later at a regional hospital.

Bay-ao was a grade six student at Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkanogon Community Learning Center, a tribal school often targeted by the military.

Valle said he was among 200 evacuees who fled the community in July after a paramilitary group called Alamara threatened to burn down their school.

The evacuees had just returned home in late August, Valle added.

It is thought Bay-ao was killed by a member of another paramilitary group called the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit.

In Manila, his schoolmates wept and vowed to fight for justice.

Eule Rico Bonganay, Secretary-General of Salinlahi Alliance for Children's Concerns said President Rodrigo Duterte's recent threat to bomb indigenous schools signaled "that is open season for hunting down indigenous youth."

Vallue said Bay-ao's killers are also suspects in the January 2016 slaying of a 15-year-old student from the same school.

The human rights group Karapatan said three other activists were killed last week, bringing to 54 the number of political killings in Duterte's first year of rule.

Jezreel and Dalia Arabis, members of a peasant organization, were gunned down on Sept. 2 in Davao City, Duterte's home city.

Oscar Asildo Jr., an activist who worked for the Department of Education, was killed on Aug. 29 while leaving his office in Guihulngan City, in Negros Oriental province.

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