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Philippines: Killing of indigenous peoples leader and human rights defender Mr Gilbert Paborada
On 3 October 2012, human rights defender Mr Gilbert Paborada was killed by two gunmen in Cagayan de Oro.
Gilbert Paborada was chairperson of the community-based indigenous organisation Pangalasag (Indigenous Shield) which resists the expansion of oil palm plantations in Opol, Misamis Oriental province.
On 3 October, Gilbert Paborada had just returned from his native village Bagocboc to San Nicolas, Puntod in Cagayan de Oro city. After getting out of a motorela (public tricycle) near his house, around 3pm, two heavy-set men on a white motorcross-type motorcycle approached him and fired several shots at him. Witnesses report that one of the men subsequently approached the human rights defender and shot him again, this time in the head. From the five bullet wounds Gilbert Paborada sustained, it has been concluded the shots were fired from a .45 caliber pistol. The human rights defender died instantly.
Gilbert Paborada was a member of the Higaonon tribespeople and worked leading the local indigenous, community-based organisation Pangalasag, which resists land grabbing practices and the expansion of oil palm plantations in nearby Opol, Misamis Oriental province. Throughout the last few years, armed groups have threatened local farmers at gunpoint and driven them from their farming lands in the Opol area, practices reportedly sanctioned by the company involved. Local authorities and the Philippines Department of the Environment and Natural Resources are vocal supporters of the palm oil company, having assisted its establishment in the area.
In March 2011, Gilbert Paborada was already forced to relocate away from his native village of Bagocboc because of growing security concerns due to death threats he had received. These came after he was threatened by the palm oil company's security guards at gunpoint in February 2011. From Puntod, he continued visiting Bagocboc to lead Pangalasag's peaceful efforts against land grabbing in defence of the indigenous community's civil and political rights.