Benjaline "Beng" Hernandez , who worked for university student publications and was a researcher with the Karapatan human rights organisation in Davao (Mindanao island), was killed on 5 April while investigating how the peace process was being implemented in the Arakan Valley, in Cotabato province. The journalist, aged 22, was reportedly shot dead along with three local young people by soldiers of the Philippine army’s 12th Special Forces Company and the 7th Airborne Battalion led by Sgt Antonio Torella.
The official autopsy showed that Hernandez and the other three (Crisanto Amora, Vivian Andrade and Labaon Sinunday) were killed at close range. Hernandez had bullets in the head, neck, chest and hand. The army said the four were caught in crossfire between troops and rebels, but friends of Hernandez said she was wounded and then executed by the soldiers.
Hernandez, who ran the student paper Atenews at Ateneo University in Davao, had recently joined Karapatan. She continued writing for university publications in the region and was vice-president for Mindanao of the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines.