All-out war vs the people must stop NOW
“The military’s all-out war against the people and the new counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan must stop. These have resulted to the escalation of fascist attacks against the people,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said at a media forum organized by the Pinoy Media Center in Quezon City.
“Ten days after Pres. Rodrigo Duterte unilaterally ‘cancelled’ the peacetalks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), from February 3 to February 12, there have been seven (7) victims of political killing of activists and civilians, with five of the victims from indigenous communities,” Palabay said, citing the killings of Lumad leaders Matanem Lorendo Pocuan, tribe leader of the Omayam tribe in Cabanglasan, Bukidnon and Renato Anglao, a Manobo-Pulangihon and secretary-general of Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association (TINDOGA). “In separate incidents, both were killed on February 3, the day Duterte announced the GRP’s withdrawal from the peacetalks, calling the New People’s Army as terrorists,” she added.
On February 6, Emelito Rotimas, a Mansaka and leader of Purok 6, Brgy. Lapu-Lapu, Maco, Compostela Valley, was shot eight (8) times by suspected military agents, while Glenn Ramos, a former coordinator of Bayan Muna in Davao City was shot dead by personnel of Crime Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) while in his house in Maa, Davao City. On February 11, two small-scale miners, Pepito Tiambong and Jerson Bito were killed when the 73rd Infantry Battalion sprayed bullets in a mining tunnel. Four others were injured, including a 15-year old boy.
In Roxas City, Capiz, a farmer was killed while five others were injured in a shooting incident while farmers were staging a Kampuhan to assert their ownership of the land occupied by the Tan Estate, despite the granting of Certificates of Land Ownership Agreement (CLOAs) to farmer-beneficiaries.
“All of these were happening while other activists are being arrested,” Palabay said. “A total of 19 individuals were illegally arrested based on trumped up charges on the same period,” Palabay continued. Most recently, Ferdinand Castillo, campaign officer of Bayan-Metro Manila was arrested in Caloocan while in consultation among the workers.
Palabay also mentioned the arrest of two women development workers in Cordillera and Bacolod City - Rogina Quilop, 49, administrative officer of the Center for People’s Resources and Services (CPRS), and Sarah Abellon-Alikes, a pioneer of the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA). “Alikes was temporary released on bail, after being imprisoned for two days before she was actually charged of a crime - arson and robbery,” Palabay said.
“Civilians are suffering due to the intensified military operations. There were at least six aerial bombs dropped in Sitio Tangis and Sitio Salutan, Brgy. Datal Anggas, Alabel, Saranggani province. This forced at least 100 Lumad families to evacuate,” Palabay said. The military also arrested eight (8) civilians who were used as guides in their operation and are currently in the custody of the 73rd IBPA. As of this writing, soldiers remain encamped in the community.
“The AFP is at it again, acting like wild dogs that have finally been fully untied from their leash. Its masters are the US and the local oligarchs, those who benefit from the all-out war and whose interests are threatened by the issues being addressed in the peace talks,” Palabay said.
Karapatan urged Pres. Duterte to veer away from the influence of warmongers in the AFP. “Instead, respond to the urgent task of addressing the roots of the armed conflict. Attaining peace in the land implores comprehensive solutions, which already started during the recent peace talks. Let the discussions on socio-economic and political reforms proceed and continue the GRP-NDFP peacetalks,” Palabay ended.
The following are cases of political killings, mostly involving Lumad communities in Mindanao, have been reported to Karapatan:
- On February 3, 2017, at around 5am, Matanem Lorendo Pocuan, a respected leader of the Omayam tribe in Cabanglasan, was shot dead in Sitio Tapayanon, Brgy. Mangaod, Cabanglasan, Bukidnon. He was shot at close range inside his neighbor’s house. The perpetrator was identified as Oba Ilocan, a known member of the Alamara paramilitary group. Alamara forces have been coercing members of Pocuan’s community to join them. Pocuan was tagged as a supporter of the New People’s Army (NPA) after refusing the Alamara’s offer, as well as opposing military operations in the community.
- On February 3, Renato Anglao, 42, a Manobo-Pulangihon, and the secretary-general of TINDOGA (Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association) was shot in Brgy. Butong, Quezon Bukidnon. He was on board his motorcycle with his wife and 5-year-old child when he was attacked. Anglao’s wife and child were unharmed but were left shaken due to the incident. Anglao staunchly opposed the entry of agribusiness plantations which sought to encroach on their ancestral domains. Due to TINDOGA’s assertion, they were able to win back their ancestral land from Rancho Montalvan, owned by Maramag Vice Mayor Pablo Lorenzo.
- On February 6, 2017, at around 11:30am, Emelito Rotimas, 48, a Mansaka, purok chairman of Purok 6, Brgy. Lapu-Lapu, Maco, Compostela Valley and a member of Anakpawis, was gunned down by two men onboard a motorcycle. Rotimas was outside the campus of the Community Technical College of Southeastern Mindanao, Inc. (CTCSM) with five students when he was shot. Rotimas sustained 8 gunshot wounds – 4 from each assailant. The incident left the students traumatized. Rotimas was actively involved in the campaigns against military encroachment in communities.
- On February 6, Glenn Ramos, 39, a construction worker and a former coordinator of Bayan Muna and member of Urban Integrated Health Services was shot by CIDG personnel who raided his house. Prior to the shooting, a former classmate of Ramos, Eduardo Santos, affiliated with Task Force Davao and suspected intelligence agent, arrived at the Ramos’ residence and left a plastic cellophane; Santos immediately left afterwards. At around 4pm, Ramos arrived. A few minutes later, around 30 CIDG personnel surrounded and forcefully entered their residence and shot Ramos four times – three times in the chest and one in the stomach. The plastic cellophane was discovered to contain bullets and a grenade, and is now in the possession of the CIDG.
- At around 2am, on February 11, soldiers from the 29th IBPA arrived at Sitio Sarog, Pangailan, Tagmamarkay, Agusan del Norte. They stayed near the tunnel where small-scale miners were staying. By 4:30am, soldiers started to fire indiscriminately at the tunnel where the miners were sleeping. The soldiers stopped after noticing there was no exchange from the other end. When they approached the tunnel, the soldiers saw the miners who were hit – 2 were dead while 4 were wounded, including a 15-year old boy. Those killed were identified as Pipito Tiambong and Jerson Bito, both are Mamanwa. According to the Lumad in the area, the soldiers received information that there were NPA members in the area near the tunnel. The casualties, however, were all civilians.
- On February 11, 5 farmers-beneficiaries and members of Kahublagan sang Mangunguma sa Capiz (KAMACA) were shot by security management of the Tan Estate. The farmers were holding their kampuhan to assert ownership of the land occupied by the Tans which was already up for distribution, with farmers granted Certificates of Land Ownership (CLOAs) by the Department of Agriculture back in 1997. Orlando Eslana, 48, was killed while 5 other farmers were wounded. Melinda Arroyo Eslana, 44, remains in critical condition after a bullet hit her head. Personnel of the hacienda management, as well as Punong Brgy. Fernando Bacanto, were named as perpetrators of the incident.