Fourteen civilians killed in February 2017 due to military operations, all-out war

“The recent killings of two farmers in Maayon, Capiz, two more farmers in San Andres, Quezon, and another two in Paquibato, Davao City put the number of reported victims of political killings to fourteen (14) in a span of a month, in the onslaught of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ all-out-war and its new counter-insurgency program, Oplan Kapayapaan,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, citing the killings of Ariel Gelbero and Roel Satingasin in Davao City, Ian Borres and Rolendo Borres in Capiz, and Gilbert Bancat and Angel Carabot in Quezon. 

Satingasin and Gelbero were found dead in Brgy. Lamanan, Clainan District, Davao City, on February 16, 2017, after being forcibly taken by elements of the 3rd Infantry Battalion – Philippine Army (IBPA). The military later claimed that both are members of the New People’s Army (NPA), which their families vehemently denied. Both were farmers. 

On February 24, Ian Borres, Rolendo Borres and five (5) other farmers were indiscriminately fired at by soldiers of the 61st IBPA while working on their fields in of Sitio Maknoy, Brgy. Jebaca, Maayon, Capiz province. Cousins Ian and Rolendo Borres died due to the shooting. The 61st IBPA, led by Lt. Joe Mark Bitbit, said that the two casualties were NPA members, while the families and residents of the community said otherwise.

On yet another incident on February 25, Gilbert Bancat, 32, coconut farmer and peasant leader in Quezon, was gunned down by unidentified assailants, suspected to be State agents, in Sitio Long Beach, Brgy. San Lorenzo, San Andres, Quezon province. The assailants stood five meters from the victim and shot him twice. An elderly bystander and also a coconut farmer, Angel Carabot, was also hit. Both were taken to Lucena Hospital, where Bancat was later declared dead. Carabot is stil in critical condition.  

“Every political killing is justified by the military with claims that victims are members of the New People’s Army (NPA), and had been killed during ‘legitimate’ encounters. In the cities, we are being fed with a similar narrative – with the police justifying drug-related killings with stories of ‘nanlaban’ during ‘legitimate’ police operations. This is fascism and repression in broad daylight, perpetrated by state security forces who seem to think that with the correct keyword, they are accorded the right to kill,” said Palabay.

“This is the bloody legacy of counter-insurgency programs like Oplan Kapayapaan and all its predecessors. In the long history of the implementation of these US-driven counter-insurgency programs, bodies have piled up and innocents are thrown in jail. Such policies do nothing to address the root causes of the armed conflict, but have only worsened the situation of communities all over the country. Oplan Kapayapaan, like any State fascist policy, will advertently push people towards the edge where resistance is the only recourse,” Palabay concluded.

 

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