Around 1,000 residents from eight barangays in Cawayan, Masbate protested in front of the municipal hall last June 3-8. They condemned the intense militarization of their communities and demanded the pull out of 2nd IB troopers who have been occupying these since May 20.
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Masbate (KMM) said that the human rights violations perpetrated by the 2nd IB, including the destruction of people’s livelihoods, are escalating.
Last May 22, elements of the 2nd IB forcibly entered the residences of and mauled KMM members. They also robbed KMM member Rosemarie Erero’s P12,000-savings, and illegally arrested her brother Nilo Erero Jr. Farmers Danilo Landao, Arnel Punay, Jovanie Impas, Bobby Baybayon, Ondo Rondina, Tong-tong Pianar, Titing Delos Reyes, Ondoy Pianar and Boy-boy Sare were also abducted and were subjected to forced labor.
Aside from this, 11 farmers were coerced to serve as guides in military operations. Former barangay council member Danilo Cunel was threatened to be killed and Barangay Dalipe residents were prohibited from going in and out of their village.
These cases add to the long list of the 2nd IB’s crimes against the Bicolanos. From atrocious killings to banditry, this butcher battalion wreaked terror in Masbate and Albay in the last 13 years. The battalion is currently under the command of Lt. Col. John Oliver F. Gabun and is based in Barangay Bacolod, Milagros, Masbate.
Since 2010, the 2nd IB perpetrated at least 41 killings of civilians and six cases of frustated killing. Most of their victims were accused of being members or supporters of the revolutionary movement. Twenty of the killings were carried out in Masbate within the last three years.
One of the starkest crimes by the 2nd IB in Masbate was the killing of two children and their grandmother in April 2017. Soldiers under the command of Lt. Karlito John Cabillo indiscriminately fired at the residence of the victims in Barangay Panan-awan, Cawayan. Lita Villamor Pepito, 70, and siblings Reden and Rechillen Luna, 9 and 11 years old, were killed during the incident. Pepito’s husband Paoling was also wounded.
In June 2018, from August 26-September 7, the butchers killed seven civilians. Five of the victims were residents of neighboring villages in the towns of San Jacinto, San Fernando and Monreal. Some houses were also torched by the soldiers. Atrocious killings were also perpetated by the 2nd IB in Albay when it was stationed in the province from 2006-2016. Two of its victims were decapitated, one was burned and another’s neck was slashed. Two massacres were perpetrated by the 2nd IB in the province.
Attackers of children
Children and the youth are not spared from the various crimes of the butcher battalion. Aside from the Luna siblings, two other youth fell prey to the 2nd IB’s strafing in Pioduran, Albay in April 2012. One was killed while another was wounded after they were fired upon by the soldiers. The two were on their way to a village dance.
In the 2nd IB’s massacre of the Lotino family in Daraga, Albay in October 2010, one of the victims was a minor. Three young children survived the attack while another suffered severe trauma.
In barangays occupied by the 2nd IB, children are used as human shields. In Guinobatan, Albay, cases wherein minors are used by soldiers as guides in their operations were reported.
In Barangay San Jose, Uson, Masbate, soldiers repeatedly stole domestic animals, belongings and cash of the villagers in September 2017 and August 2018.
In Barangay Talisay in San Fernando, Masbate, the soldiers robbed the villagers thrice in May 2018. Lt. Col. Gabun himself spearheaded the crime. The officer forcibly rounded up the villagers, while his men ransacked their properties. Among the belongings seized by the 2nd IB were eight fishing boats and nets, rice, dozens of domestic animals, five generator sets and farm equipment. A day earlier, four motorcycles were also seized by the soldiers. Two incidents of theft by the 2nd IB, affecting 35 victims, were recorded
Even when it was still deployed in Albay, the 2nd IB was already notorious for banditry. Its detachments were known for spearheading criminal activities including holdup incidents. Recruits in the Barangay Intelligence Network accompany soldiers in heists which primarily target middle forces accused of supporting the revolutionary movement. A rape case was also committed by the 2nd IB’s thieves.
Unrest in communities
In barangays occupied by the 2nd IB, residents are coerced to construct huts for the military, post guard and conduct reconnaissance. Cases of threat and harassment against suspected members or supporters of the revolutionary movement are prevalent.
From 2010-2015, 2nd IB “peace and development” operations occupied and terrorized barangays in the second and third district of Albay. In Masbate, its crimes against the people are most intense in the first and second districts.
The 2nd IB also perpetrated the illegal arrest and detention of 39 civilians, torture and physical injuries of five, and harassment of eight others.
The 2nd IB was previously deployed in Bicol in 1986, and then transferred to different provinces within the region. After undergoing “retraining” in 2006, the battalion’s atrocities escalated when it was transferred from Sorsogon to Albay. Here, the 2nd IB carried out the brutal campaigns Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and 2, up to Oplan Bayanihan. The butchers were then transferred to Masbate in 2016 and carried on with their crimes there.