State agents in shock operations in Negros Oriental: 14 civilian farmers killed in 1-day simultaneous midnight operations

Photo courtesy of Brigada News-FM San Carlos

By Joey Natividad

CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region – Fourteen (14) farmers were killed in State anti-dissent operations launched simultaneously Saturday early morning (March 30) in three areas in Canlaon City, Manjuyod and Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental Province.

Reports reaching on Monday in Naga City tell stories about State agents launching “arrest operations” on community leaders and peasant activists at early dawn in the Visayas, on the pretext of anti-drug operations, that resulted to their slaying for allegedly “fighting back”.

Cultural group Teatro Obrero fumes in anger
Meantime, peasant cultural group, Teatro Obrero, strongly condemning the killings, describing the slayings as form of “one-time”, big time “demonic strike” of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), assisted by the number one “criminal” in Negros Oriental, the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The March 30 killings in the island of Negros took away the lives of 14 farmers in less than a day.

de facto Martial Law

“The series of killings in Negros Island is consequent to Duterte’s declaration of Memorandum Order No. 32 or “de facto martial law” that affects the lives and livelihood of many people, especially farmers and farm-workers. The Synchronized Enhanced Managing of Police Operations (SEMPO) implementation or the one-time, big time attack of the AFP, PNP and other government troops against the people have caused severe militarization in the peasant communities in the island of Negros,” said the cultural group.

History of state repression in Negros

Teatro Obrero said: “Like what happened last year when 9 farmers were massacred in Sagay City on October 20, 2018. Then, the killings of 6 farmers in Guihulngan City on December 27, 2018 which were both perpetrated by state forces. These resulted in the forcible evacuation of many farmers, synchronized with arrests and filing of trumped-up charges.”

The “demonic demeanor” of the fascist AFP and PNP troops are also experienced in peasant communities of North Negros. Successive human rights violations have intensified in numerous barangays in the cities of Escalante, Sagay and San Carlso and towns of Toboso, Calatrava and Don Salvador Benedicto in the past months and even at present.

Teatro Obrero calls on the youth, farmers and students alike, to take a stand with the farmers and the people against human rights violations and various attacks brought about by de facto martial law of the US-Duterte regime. Integrate with the basic sectors, especially the farmers, to obtain the truth amidst the enormous fake news flooding the internet and mass media.

Northern Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (NNAHRA)

Meanwhile, Northern Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (NNAHRA) also condemned the killing of 14 peasants in Canlaon City, Manjuyod and Sta. Catalina, when PNP-Region, its Special Action Forces (SAF) and Regional Mobile Force (RMF), along with elements of the 94th Infantry Brigade Philippine Army, conducted an “anti- criminality” synchronized enhanced management of police operations or SEMPO that they call “Oplan Sauron.”

Old folks shot dead

Reportedly killed in yesterday’s Sauron operations were 8 farmers from Canlaon City: Avelino brothers Ismael, 53, and Edgardo, 59, of Sitio Carmen, Barangay Panubigan; Mechor Panares, 67, and his son, Mario, 46 of Sitio
Tigbahi, Barangay Bayog; Rogelio Recomono, 52 and his son Ricky, 28, of Sitio Manggata, Barangay Masulog; Gonzalo Rosales, 47, of Barangay Pula and Genes Palmares, 54 of Barangay Aquino.

Edgardo Avelino was the chairman of HUKOM or Hugpong Kusog sa Mag-uuma sa Canlaon City, a local chapter of the national peasant group Kilusang Magububukid ng Pilipinas (KMP).

Aside from the killings, authorities also illegally arrested around 12 other farmers, including Nestor Kadusale, 58, of Sitio Kambugtong, Barangay Bantolinao, who is a local leader of KMP in Manjuyod town.

The 4 killed in Manjuyod include two barangay captains: Valentin (“Eric” in police report) Acabal of Barangay Kandabong, and Sonny Palagtiw of Barangay Panciao; and two farmers, Steve Arapoc and Manulo Martin.

Two others were also killed in Sta. Catalina town, identified as Franklin Lariosa and Ano Enojo Rapada.

OPLAN SAURON first wave of killings and arrests

The first wave of Oplan Sauron was conducted in Guihulngan City and two other towns, also in Negros Oriental, on December 27, 2018, a day after the 50th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Six peasants were killed and 50 others were arrested.

Saturday’s murderous rampage came a day after the 50th NPA founding anniversary.

As in the first wave of Oplan Sauron, authorities justified the operations as an “anti-criminality” drive against drugs and “loose firearms.”

Right after, the police would allege that the victims were killed in a shoot-out with rebels and tag them as combatants and now, members of so-called NPA “sparrow units”.

Photo courtesy of Brigada News-FM San Carlos

“To shock and kill” as tools in State repression

The appalling conduct of these “police operations” obviously aims to make peasants, activists, and other ordinary citizens of Negros to cower in fear, surrender their rights, and accept the wave of terror under de facto Martial Law and Malacanang’s Memorandum Order No. 32.

“The police and military in Negros are hard-pressed to meet their quotas in “ending the communist insurgency” as ordered by President Duterte through Executive Order 70, that they target ordinary farmers and civilians whom they tag either as supporters or actual rebel combatants, and present them as “surrenderees” or worse, as casualties in these anomalous “encounters.”, said the human rights group.

With this murderous pattern of the AFP and PNP in Negros, another Escalante massacre is not far from happening.

More than 60 peasants have been killed in Negros under Duterte. The wave of killings must stop. End these demonic Sauron operations and pull-out military troops from peasant communities of Negros.

Bayan Muna reacts

In a related development, Bayan Muna chairman and Makabayan senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares also condemned the massacre of 14 individuals in various barangays in Canlaon City, Negros Oriental, early this morning.

“This is beyond words and the height of impunity of state forces. Justice must be served,” said the Negrense Makabayan senatorial bet.

“Surely the PNP will again claim “nanlaban daw”. This is absurd because they raided different barangays in different municipalities at 12 midnight when the victims were asleep and suddenly everyone simultaneously and conveniently fought back,” said Colmenares.

“State forces conducting counter-insurgency operations are wreaking havoc in Negros and passing it off as an anti-criminality operation. They are targeting members of peoples organizations and killing ordinary farmers who they suspect of being rebels or rebel sympathizers. This is Oplan Tokhang now being done to farmers,” he said.

“We warn the police that we will pursue justice so that the police involved will suffer the fate of Gen. Jovito Palparan who is now languishing in prison. We demand that the PNP and AFP release the names of all those involved so that we can file criminal cases against them,” Colmenares said.

“This is identical to the attack last year that massacred five leaders and members of a farmers association in Guihulngan City in the guise of an anti-crime campaign. These attacks should be stopped,” Colmenares added.

Wholesale Tokhang against civilian activists

Meanwhile, Rep.Zarate said “the AFP and the PNP are doing wholesale Tokhang operations against activists and this should be stopped immediately.”

“State forces are on a rampage and activists and critics are in their crosshairs. We will not take this sitting down and we will seek justice for the victims and file charges against the policemen and their superiors who perpetrated this massacre,” added Rep.Zarate.

Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office head Colonel Raul Tacaca was quoted by radio DZBB as saying that the suspects were killed in separate operations in Canlaon City and in the towns of Manjuyod and Sta. Catalina.

College Editors Guild

In Manila, College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), in a statement, joins the masses in condemning the unacceptable killing of 14 individuals in various barangays in Canlaon City, Negros Oriental.

These incidents where ordinary Filipinos get mercilessly killed by uniformed men is an outright violation of human rights – a Constitutionally guaranteed right that must be upheld by everyone, especially those people who swore to serve the interest of the people.

Aside from the 14 individuals massacred, a number of farmers who are serving as leaders of the local organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas were also detained by the state forces.

“The Duterte regime proves that they are in no way serving the people who are just asking for genuine reforms. Instead of prioritizing the basic masses of the country, he himself and his puppets are more concerned with the welfare of their cronies and the imperialist countries they serve,” CEGP said.

“As we condemn this deliberate attack against the ordinary Filipinos, we also vow to join in seeking justice for them. The truth will come out and those in power will be held to account,” CEGP vowed. []


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