Elements of the Task Group Panther under the command of Lt. Col. Samuel Yunque and the 5th Scout Ranger Battalion led by Capt. Michael Asistores ruthlessly killed seven Tausug youths, ages 18-31, in Kabbon Takas, Patikul, Sulu in the afternoon of September 14.
The victims were identified as Makrub Diray, Basirun Hayrani, Mijan Hayrani, Binnajar Asak, Salip Maknun Sakirin, Hassan Hamsam and Alpadal Diray.
On September 14 at around 9 a.m., the young men asked officers of the operating troops of the 55th IB for permission to go to Sityo Tubig Bato of the said barangay to harvest mangosteen and lanzones. A certain “Lt. Col. Salvador” gave them the go-signal.
At around 11 a.m. of the same day, Scout Rangers arrested the seven. On September 15, kin of the seven were surprised to find the victims’ lifeless bodies at a military camp in Jolo, which the soldiers claim as members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
In a statement, Suara Bangsamoro claimed that the victims were husbands of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program beneficiaries in Patikul, and their families are among those who evacuated and currently living temporarily in Barangay Igasan.
The victims’ recounted that a firefight ensued on September 14 at nearby Barangay Bakong between the ASG and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). But when the soldiers passed by Barangay Kabbon Takas, they arbitrarily arrested the seven.
The AFP insists that the seven were ASG members, despite witnesses attesting that the victims were carrying their harvested mangosteen during their arrest. Alpadal Diray, one of the victims, was a student at the Jallao National High School.
Meanwhile, relentless bombings and mortar shelling were carried out by the AFP Joint Task Force Central in the towns of Shariff Saydona Mustapha and Datu Saudi Ampatuan in Maguindanao during the second week of September. This forced hundreds of residents to evacuate towards Libutan, Datu Salibo and Shariff Saydona Mustapha.
Prior to this, the AFP bombed and shelled Barangay Bialong, Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao in September 5. According to a fact-finding team by the groups Kawagib and Suara Bangsamoro, Ustadz Abdulladzis Abdulrahim, 58, was killed in one incident. Farida Asim, 48, Saiden Ismael, 23, and Sema Bido, 62, were seriously wounded.
On September 4, the AFP, assisted by US Army Special Forces, bombed Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, purportedly to target those behind the consecutive bombings in the town of Isulan, Sultan Kudarat last August 28 and September 3. The airstrikes killed a civilian, wounded three others, and forced thousands of families to leave their homes.
Suara Bangsamoro condemned the shelling as well as the direct participation of American forces in the said combat operations.
Killings. In Malabog Caramoan, Camarines Sur, soldiers belonging to the 83rd IB killed husband and wife Hermenio Aragdon, 69, and Soledad Aragdon, 60, both farmers, last September 11.
The couple were on their way to their farm to harvest bananas which they plan to sell in order to raise fare money to attend the feast of Peñafrancia in Naga City. On the way, soldiers blocked and opened fire at them. In a statement to the media, the military said that the elderly couple were members of the New People’s Army (NPA) killed in an encounter.
In Karapatan-Bicol’s record, up to 51 individuals have been extrajudicially killed in the region under the Duterte regime.
A Lumad farmer was also shot dead by elements of the 23rd IB in Sityo Bulak, Lower Olave, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte in September 15.
The victim, Rex Hangadon, and his father were resting in their farm hut when they soldiers suddenly fired at them. Witnesses said that the soldiers carried Hangadon’s lifeless body outside the hut. His father is still missing.
As a result, the whole community evacuated to another area of their barangay. In September 7, around 38 Higaonon families have already left their community because of the military’s presence.
In Masbate, consecutive civilian killings were reported from August up to the first half of September. Perpetrators were from the 2nd IB, 22nd IB-CAFGU, PNP Regional Mobile Force Battalion 5, and “rebel returnees.”
Among the victims were Nonong Capellan of Uson; Johnel Dejucos and Pablo Dilao of Barangay Burgos, San Jacinto; couple Dominggito and Maria Deinla of Barangay Resurreccion, San Fernando; Dingdong Escorel of Barangay Cantorna, Monreal; and Ruel Nuñez of Barangay Biyong, Masbate City.
Harassment. Human rights groups condemned the memorandum issued by the PNP Intelligence Group last May which instructs the police nationwide to provide a “summary of information” on individuals accused as NPA leaders.
Included in the list are some known human rights defenders of indigenous peoples from the Cordillera, namely Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Joan Carling, Atty. Jose Molintas, Beverly Longid, Joanna Patricia Cariño, Windel Bolinget, Jeannete Ribaya-Cawiding and Sherwin De Vera.
In UP Diliman, elements of the Quezon City Police Department went to the residence of Student Regent Ivy Joy Taroma and repeatedly asked her housemate of her whereabouts. The UP administration questioned the PNP’s unauthorized intrusion inside the university.
Illegal arrest. In Calayan, Cagayan, police and military elements arrested and filed trumped-up charges against couple Edison and Divina Erece last September 3. The Erece couple are active members of Amihan-Cagayan, an organization of poor peasants.
Militarization. In the first two weeks of September, two farmers fell victims to the brutality of the 94th IB in Barangay San Quintin, Moises Padilla (Magallon), Negros Occidental. Soldiers threatened to kill Esoy Villahermosa, over 40 years old and a resident of Sityo Uway-uway. He was forced to guide the military’s combat operations. Villahermosa was beaten when he attempted to escape his abductors.
Meanwhile, the soldiers forcibly entered the house of Eke Gimpayan in nearby Sityo Tibobong and robbed him of his hard-earned money.
In Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental, the 62nd IB used the residents of Barangay Cawitan as human shields. After the punitive action by the NPA-Negros on a destructive mining company in September 15, the soldiers set up camp at the Danao Elementary School and instructed 20 residents, including eight minors, to guard them at night.
Troops of the 24th IB under the command of 2Lt. Alquin Bolivar, also attacked the communities of indigenous peoples in Sallapadan, Abra. Their violations include the abduction of Adjato Pati and forcing him to serve as guide in their operations. Prior to this, soldiers held his wife and 8-year old child at gunpoint to force them to reveal Pati’s whereabouts. Through bribery, harassment and filing of trumped-up charges, soldiers coerce the residents to testify against their fellow tribesmen.
In Mindoro Oriental, 58 indigenous Hanunuo families were forced to leave Sityo Panhulugan, Barangay Panaytayan, Mansalay due to the presence of the 4th IB since September 10. The soldiers occupied the village school, and have been prohibiting residents from farming and bringing their harvest to the market.