By Visayas Today
The string of killings in Negros Oriental over the past two weeks and the deployment of more police personnel to the province are meant to “condition public opinion” prior to placing Negros under martial law, communist rebels claimed on Tuesday, July 30.
Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde has announced the deployment of 300 more Special Action Force personnel to Negros in the wake of the killings, which have claimed at least a score of civilian lives since rebels killed four police intelligence officers in Ayungon town on July 18.
In a phone interview with Aksyon Radyo-Bacolod’s Art Tayhopon, Ka Ann Jacinto, deputy spokesperson of the Leonardo Panaligan Command, the New People’s Army unit operating in Central Negros, noted that the recent murders bore the hallmarks of “Tokhang,” the name police have given to their anti-drug operations but which has also become synonymous to extrajudicial killings.
She also claimed these were a continuation of Oplan Sauron, the code name for two police operations in late December last year and March 30 that left 20 persons dead. Authorities claimed the fatalities were rebel suspects who fought back when served warrants but the victims’ families invariably said they were executed inside their homes.
Jacinto brushed off police and military attempts to lay the blame for the killings on the rebels, saying many of those killed, including local government officials, were known “progressives” who “sympathized with and supported the peasants’ struggles.”
These, she said, included lawyer Anthony Trinidad, who had been included on the “kill list” of a shadowy anti-communist group before he was killed on July 23; the siblings and educators Arthur and Aldane Bayawa as well as Buenavista barangay captain Romeo Alipan of Guihulngan who were among the seven persons murdered on July 25; Canlaon City Councilor Ramon “Bobby” Jalandoni and Panubigan barangay captain Ernesto Posadas, killed mere minutes of each other early Saturday, July 27; and former Ayungon mayor Edsel Enardecido and his cousin Leo, slain two hours later and who Jacinto described as staunch anti-mining advocates.
Jacinto also addressed the graffiti spray painted on the homes of Jalandoni, Posadas and Enardecido, which proclaimed “Mabuhay ang NPA” and accused the three of being “traitors,” saying “it is not the habit of the NPA to paint messages during military operations.”
The rebels, she stressed, “issue press releases or statements detailing the decisions of the revolutionary people’s court or the reasons for military actions against legitimate military targets” as in the case of the four officers killed in Ayungon.
The NPA has said the four had disguised themselves as employees of the Environment department allegedly to conduct surveillance on more targets for Sauron.
The police and military claim the four were tortured and executed, but the NPA maintain they died in a rebel ambush. #