Development worker killed in Abra encounter

Engineer Fidela “Delle” Bugarin Salvador, 50, was a staff member of the Cordillera Disaster Response and Development Services (CorDisRDS) and was monitoring projects in the area when she was caught and was killed in the crossfire.

By DEE AYROSO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — A long-time development worker in Cordillera was killed in the crossfire between the military and New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Guinguinabang village, Lacub, Abra on September 4.

Engineer Fidela “Delle” Bugarin Salvador, 50, was a staff member of the Cordillera Disaster Response and Development Services (CorDisRDS) and was monitoring projects in the area when she was caught and was killed in the crossfire.

In a joint statement, the CorDisRDS and the Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera (CDPC) expressed indignation on Salvador’s “unwarranted death.”

“On September 5, while on a working visit to Lacub, Abra as an independent consultant monitoring numerous socio-economic projects implemented by CorDisRDS, Delle was killed in the midst of ongoing military pursuit operations against revolutionary groups in the area.”

“She was a civilian and a non-combatant, whose only commitment was to serve the marginalized and neglected communities of the Cordillera by bringing much needed socio-economic services. However, her dedication to her work and her willingness to travel to the remotest communities of the region cost her and her family her life,” the statement said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines claimed that five NPA rebels were killed in the gunfight.

“It is a matter of grave concern that innocent civilians and development workers are killed in the crossfire while extending services to much-neglected communities. Only a few are willing and able to brave the difficulties of development work in rural communities of the Cordillera,” the statement said.

Salvador began as a member of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and later became a church worker, said the CordisRDS. In the 90s, Salvador worked with the NGOs Mining Communities Development Center and the Women Workers Program. She organized among the elders, women and youth in the mining communities of Itogon, Benguet who were affected by destructive open pit mining operations.

Salvador also went to Mankayan, Benguet as an organizer of the Regional Development Center Katinnulong dagiti Umili ti Amianan of Northern Luzon (RDC-Kaduami-NL), organizing poor peasants for the Alyansa dagiti Pesante ti Taeng Kordilyera (APIT-Tako).

Salvador also helped implement relief and livelihood projects for communities affected by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng in the Cordillera and Ilocos regions.

“Among the services extended to disaster-stricken communities were shelter projects, irrigations systems, distribution of farm tools and many others,” said the CordisRDS.

“Delle’s death is a great loss not only for CorDisRDS, CDPC and the whole NGO community, but more so for the disadvantaged people whom she served,” said the statement. ()

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