Unidentified gunmen shot and killed a human rights activist, whose name had appeared on a military hit list, in the northern Philippine province of Ifugao on Tuesday.
Cristina Palabay, secretary general of human rights group Karapatan identified the victim as William Bugatti of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance.
She said that Bugatti's name had appeared on an army unit's list of targeted persons, obtained from undisclosed sources, which included activists and individuals working with farmers’ organizations. Bugatti was described on the list as the "brains” of the New People's Army," the military arm of the underground Communist Party of the Philippines.
According to Piya Macliing Malayao of the Alliance of Indigenous People of the Philippines, Bugatti was on his way home from the office when he was gunned down. He sustained three gunshot wounds.
Malayao said other members of human rights groups in the Cordillera region have also become targets of the military.
"Bugatti's killing sends a gravely disturbing message to members of people's organizations and human rights defenders in the region," she said.
Last week, Malayao raised concerns about posters that appeared in Ifugao province, bearing the names of tribal leaders and human rights activists who have been tagged as communist rebels.
"We now fear for the lives of the others listed on the military’s target catalog," she said, adding that the list "proves that there are precision strikes being made on unarmed civilians" under the government's anti-insurgency program.
Malayao said that during the first 10 weeks of 2014 alone, four indigenous people were killed by government security forces.
"Indigenous peoples find themselves facing the military’s gun barrels as they assert their rights over their lands and resources," Malayao said.
Alliance records show that at least 43 indigenous peoples have been already killed since 2010 when President Benigno Aquino came into power and implemented a new anti-insurgency program to put an end to more than four decades of communist insurgency in the country.