Three members of a peasant organization in Compostela Valley were successively killed by state agents this August amid the continuing terror of Mindanao martial law. In other parts of the country, other military and police units also rule with terror.
Killings. In Compostela Valley, elements of the 66th IB shot and killed on August 18 at around 10:30 p.m. Rolly Panebio, 46, an active member of the Compostela Farmers Association (CFA). Panebio had just finished his shift as volunteer security staff of the Salupongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center in Barangay Bango when two men aboard a motorcycle arrived. The men dragged Panebio some meters away from the school and shot him. At around noon the following day, elements of the 66th IB also shot and killed the couple Gilbert and Jean Labial, also members of CFA. The couple were on their way home from Panebio’s funeral when Gilbert noticed two men waiting near the 66th IB camp in Sityo Balite, Barangay Banakon of the same town. Gilbert turned his motorcycle around but the assailants chased and shot them to death.
Panebio and the Labial couple were active in opposing mining and militarization in their area. They were recently accused by soldiers of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA) and were forced to surrender last February and March.
In Negros Oriental, Heide Malalay Flores was shot to death at past 6 p.m. on August 21 in Poblacion, Guihulngan City. Flores was a former activist and was known to be helpful especially to poor peasants. In 2017, Flores was threatened by the vigilante group Kawsa sa Guihulnganon Batok Druga ug Komunista after a successful NPA ambush against the PNP.
In Cebu, 42-year old Butch Rosales, a human rights defender and Rise Up Cebu volunteer, was shot to death on August 8. Rosales was seated in front of a jeepney on his way to Punta Engaño in Lapu-Lapu City when the assailant shot him from behind. The assassin fled aboard a waiting motorcycle.
In Pangasinan, elements of the PNP Regional Office 1 killed minor Joshua Laxamana, 17, while the youngster was on his way home to Tarlac City along with his friend Julius Sebastian, 15.
Both teens were returning from Baguio City after attending a DOTA tournament. They were last sighted in Sison, Pangasinan last August 16 while hitching for a ride home. The following day, the PNP reported that they had killed Laxamana when he “put up a fight.” The PNP also reported that the youngster was involved in thefts in Pangasinan, in possession of a firearm and shabu, and evaded a checkpoint aboard a motorcycle. The PNP has yet to surface Sebastian.
Frustrated killing. Armed men attempted to kill Victor Ageas, union leader of Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farms-Kilusang Mayo Uno in Compostela, Compostela Valley on September 4 at around 6 a.m. Ageas was driving his motorcycle on his way to work when four men aboard motorcycles tailed him. Four more men met him along Crossing Blanco. The assailants fired at him when he was only two meters away.
The KMU pointed as the motive NAMASUFA’s plan to launch a strike against Sumifru because of the company’s disregard of the collective bargaining union spearheaded by the union.
Illegal arrest. On September 2, three farmers in Barangay Calumpit, Lobo, Batangas were illegally arrested by soldiers of the 2nd ID encamped in the middle of civilian houses in the said village. According to the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, arrested were Marwin de Rafael, Santi Ticatic and Joselito Flores and are currently detained at PNP Lobo.
Residents of Lobo have been militantly opposing the planned construction of a mining company in the municipality.
The illegal arrest was made after the NPA-Batangas’ defense against an attack by the 1st IB in Sityo Silyaran of the same barangay earlier that day. The NPA set off a bomb and fired at the soldiers resulting in some casualties in the military.
On August 11, two police officers in plainclothes arrested Arnold Albarillo in Barangay Calsapa and brought him to the Provincial Public Safety Battalion camp in Barangay Tacligan, San Teodoro, Oriental Mindoro. He was put under interrogation for two hours before being brought to the PNP San Teodoro. He was detained for cases for murder, attempted murder and rebellion.
Albarillo comes from a family long subjected to state persecution. His parents and older brother were victims of torture and murder by the military. In April 2002, under then Col. Jovito Palparan’s reign of terror in Mindoro, his parents Manuela and Expedito, Bayan Muna coordinators, were accused as NPA members and killed. In 2012, the 74th IB killed Armando Albarillo, Arnold’s brother and former secretary general of Bayan-Southern Tagalog.
Meanwhile, in the afternoon of August 15, police illegally arrested Mylene Santua, former spokesperson of the group Coco Levy Fund Ibalik sa Amin (CLAIM), in Barangay Pagsangahan, San Francisco, Quezon. CLAIM is calling for the return to coconut farmers of more than P200 billion in coco levy funds. Santua was pregnant and was on her way to a medical check up when she was arrested. She is currently detained at Barangay Malamig in the same town.
Bombing. The 10th ID’s bombing brought extreme fear to the students of Salupongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Learning Center in Barangay Dagohoy, Talaingod, Davao del Norte last August 27. The Philippine Air Force dropped its bombs near the school where children were holding classes.
Militarization. In Isabela, the 54th IB have been occupying Barangay Sta. Isabel, Jones since July. A certain Lt. Amilao leads the “community support program” operations. As a result, various cases of human rights violations were recorded, including the forcible entry and illegal searching of residences, destruction of farms, surveillance and tagging of residents as NPA members or supporters. The soldiers also imposed a curfew. Aside from the 54th IB in Jones, the 86th IB and the 95th IB are also conducting operations in the towns of San Agustin and San Guillermo.
In Negros, the 303rd IBde’s violations of the rights of the island’s people intensified since the 15th IB and 94th IB arrived in the first half of the year. This is apart from the 62nd IB’s militarization of the island’s other towns. The 303rd IBde is headed by Col. Alberto Desoyo.
The 15th IB’s operation has been unrelenting in South Negros, particularly in the towns of Hinobaan, Ilog, Candoni, Sipalay City and Basay since March.
According to Ka Juanito Magbanua of the NPA-Negros Island, 15th IB operations serve as clearing operations for the upcoming Balikatan military exercises in October. In the coastal barangays of Asia and Sangke, and in the boundaries of Hinobaan and Ilog, the soldiers ordered the residents to destroy and leave their homes in the mountains.
Among the 15th IB’s crimes are the torture of four farmers and forcing them to serve as guides; surveillance and targetting of residents listed by the military as NPA members or supporters; destruction of farms, crops and harvest; prohibiting residents to tend to their farms; and setting farm animals loose resulting in the deaths of some of these.
In Central Negros, more than 100 soldiers of the 94th IB mounted brutal operations in the cities of Guihulngan and Canlaon, and in the towns of Magallon (Moises Padilla) and Isabela. The NPA-Negros added that elements of the 94th IB misrepresent themselves as Red fighters and sow fear to the the villagefolks. Because of this, residents could not tend to their farms.
The 62nd IB meanwhile have been occupying two barangays in Mabinay, two more in Manjuyod, and several in Ayungon since five months ago. The soldiers encamp in barangay halls and other civilian structures, forcibly enter residences and coerce them to surrender as NPA members.