We, the UP Diliman College of Engineering (UP COE) community, express our deepest sorrow and indignation on the death of its brilliant alumnus, Chad Errol R. Booc. That it happened in the hands of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) makes it highly suspicious. [1,2,3] We demand an immediate, unbiased investigation of the incident to establish the facts to explain what really happened, and bring justice to Chad and his untimely death. We send our most heartfelt sympathies and condolences to his bereaved family, and join them in mourning and demanding justice.

Chad was a kind, consistent honor student since his elementary years, a high school valedictorian, until he obtained his B.S. Computer Science degree in 2016, cum laude. His published research article from 2016 can be found at: https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/7785426. From his posts in social media, his intelligent understanding of the problems in our country made him learn of the deeply rooted causes. He volunteered as a math teacher for the Lumad — one of our indigenous peoples.

Just a little over a year ago, on 15 February 2021, Chad and the so-called, “Lumad 7” were jailed in Cebu, after their arrest right inside the University of San Carlos campus where they were conducting classes for the Lumad. They were slapped with ridiculous charges of kidnapping, child abuse, and brainwashing of minors. That the arrests were done inside a university campus sent shock waves around universities, and the UP COE had a rally in front of the Engg Steps on 18 February 2021 to demand release of the arrested and to denounce such travesty of academic freedom. All charges were later dismissed, and Chad was set free on 14 May 2021. Little did the young math teacher know he will be killed less than a year later, in an incident described by the AFP as an “encounter with the NPAs”. Chad was traveling with fellow Lumad school teacher Gelejurain “Jurain” Ngujo II, and community health worker Elgyn Balonga. They were killed along with two drivers of a rented van while on the road in New Bataan, Davao de Oro. News from the local communities deny any encounter in the area.

We demand punitive measures to those accountable, starting with the AFP 10th Infantry Division all the way to the top brass! The spate of killings in our country that are conveniently attributed to “encounters with the NPAs” are rising. Young idealists like Chad, and many others who were red-tagged and whose lives were snuffed out at their prime in the name of “counter-insurgency” must be respected. Respect for human rights is paramount. We believe in the rule of law and justice for all; even in war, there are laws to be followed. Instead of killing our youth, the government should be addressing the causes of their respective decisions to leave their comfortable lives to serve the underserved. We are sick and tired of catchy descriptions like “Lumad 7,” and “New Bataan 5”. Let consciences be examined and social services be brought where needed. Let Chad’s death be the last in the long list of civilians killed in so-called, “encounters with the NPAs.”

We demand an immediate investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation about the deaths in New Bataan. We call on the Commission on Human Rights, and other independent bodies to conduct parallel investigations to ascertain the truth and give justice to Chad and his companions. We join their grieving families and friends in a collective cry for justice. We denounce the liars who call them “terrorists.” We pray that all these killings repeatedly happening in our country be stopped immediately. We salute Chad for his courage and his passion for serving the people. No graduate of the UP COE can be viewed as a victim, and Chad is our hero! He was true to our College motto – KNOWLEDGE, PROGRESS, SERVICE.

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1 Antonio, Josiah. “Groups condemn killing of Lumad school teacher Chad Booc, demand justice.” ABS-CBN News, February 27, 2022. https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/02/27/22/groups-condemn-killing-of-lumad-school-teacher-chad-booc/

2 Cantal-Albasin, Grace. “CPP, Lumad schools’ group doubt claim Booc slain in encounter.” Rappler, February 26, 2022. https://www.rappler.com/nation/cpp-save-our-schools-network-doubt-claim-booc-slain-encounter/

3 Reyes, Dempsey and Rosauro, Ryan. “Groups dispute Army account of ‘lumad’ teachers’ slay.” Inquirer.net, February 27, 2022. https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1560427/groups-dispute-army-account-of-lumad-teachers-slay/

3 Reyes, Dempsey and Rosauro, Ryan. “Groups dispute Army account of ‘lumad’ teachers’ slay.” Inquirer.net, February 27, 2022. https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/…/groups-dispute-army…/