A joint military and police operation of the 90th Infantry Battalion, 72nd IB, and municipal and provincial forces of the Philippine National Police carried out a heinous summary execution of two staffers of a demo-farm for a sustainable agriculture institution and a local resident in Sitio Marinangao, Brgy. Sarayan in Pres. Roxas, North Cotabato, in the early hours of February 8.
At around 5:30 in the morning, masses in the area reported that the fascist troops sprayed the civilians’ staff house with hundreds of rounds of bullets, instantly killing Buenaventura Dawal and his other companion. Dennis Nogollos, an operator of the barrio’s power spray machine, who at the time was fetching water, was also killed by the soldiers’ indiscriminate firing. All three murdered unarmed civilians were later misrepresented by the AFP as members of the New People’s Army.
The storyline is as worn-out as it is unbelievable: the fascist troops were supposed to serve warrants of arrests (conveniently at the crack of dawn when no witness can verify their account), the civilians supposedly opened fire (subsequently presenting firearms and explosives, with marijuana joints for added effect), and claiming the victims were members of the NPA (the two sustainable agriculture staffers have in fact been in the demo-farm for several years while Nogollos was a local resident whose wife is a public teacher).
This heinous crime is the latest of a series of openly fascist attacks against the masses in Southern Mindanao at the start of 2021. In Paquibato district in Davao City, ten civilians, one of them a woman, were arrested by military and police forces, January 10, on trumped-up charges of attempted murder and rebellion and held in custody for 10 days. Seeing the charges could not hold water, the civilians were later declared “surrenderees” in a staged release.
In Sitio Lower Binoongan, Brgy. Binoongan in Arakan, North Cotabato, two peasant families were terrorized by a joint operation of the 16th IB and municipal PNP, January 21. The troops interrogated at gunpoint the wife of Rafael Vergara, whom the soldiers accused of having hidden several firearms of the NPA. They brandished a supposed warrant of arrest for Vergara on false charges of homicide and illegal possession of firearms. Less than an hour later, the same soldiers forcibly entered the house Vergara’s neighbor, 70-year old Danny Rojo and interrogated the elderly farmer and his family while another elderly, Warling Carlos, and his son-in-law Cabing, were held at gunpoint as they were forced to lie facing the ground. Presently, the 16th IB troops have not let-up their combat operations in the Lumad villages of Arakan and neighboring farming barrios of Kitaotao and Kibawe in Bukidnon. In Kitaotao, particularly, the AFP has been conscripting some Lumad into the paramilitary Alamara and arming them, drawing widespread fear and condemnation from both residents and local officials.
At this time when the reactionary Supreme Court is holding oral arguments regarding the Anti-Terrorism Law, the recent cases of cold-blooded murder and abuses in North Cotabato and elsewhere in the region highlight the savage fascism of the AFP and PNP’s counter-insurgency war. Upholding this draconian law will only embolden the impunity and terrorism of the US-Duterte regime against the Filipino people, especially those who stand in the way of its corruption, servility to imperial power and bid to perpetuate itself in power.