By Berlin Guerrero
THE Astejada family was on the way to Infanta, Quezon to celebrate Pio and Amelita’s wedding anniversary when they were ambushed by motorcycle-riding men.
They just came from the Sunday morning worship at their local church, General Nakar Christian Church – UCCP. With them were their three teenage children Pamela, Samuel Bien Sandro, and Piel Amihan.
Pio Luzano Astejada, 45 years old, served as local church council chair and is the past chairperson of the Northeast Southern Tagalog Conference (NESTCon) of the UCCP and now its vice chairperson. He was the current municipal treasurer of Gen Nakar, Quezon while Amy was active in the church and in community development projects and was a public school teacher.
Amy died on the spot from bullet wounds as she tried to shield Pio from the gunfire. Pio was brought to the hospital in a very critical condition for gunshot wounds. He died two days later. The children were physically unharmed.
It is believed that their murder may have something to do with the electoral contest currently going in the Philippines. Voting day was on 13 May 2013, Monday.
By electoral law, the municipal treasurer receives all votes and electoral paraphernalia from all the voting precincts in town.
Pio was known to be a person of integrity in all his work and dealings. He opposed infrastructure projects, such as a mega-dam project, that would destroy ancestral lands and eject the Agta indigenous communities from their ancestral domain.
As a Christian and community leader, he was sought after by municipal leaders for advice and support.
A message from the Community Ministry Committee of NESTCon reads:
The United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Northeast Southern Tagalog Conference (NESTCON) condemns in the strongest possible terms, the ambush- slaying of Pio and Amy Astejada of UCCP General Nakar, Quezon. The worsening human rights situation in the country shows the ineptness and bankruptcy of the US-Aquino regime to curb extra-judicial killings! Justice for Pio and Amy Astejada; Justice for all victims of Extra-Judicial Killings!