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Massacre victims possibly raped, tortured

Twelve year old Angel Rivas and her 21-year old lesbian sister Lenie may have been raped and tortured by the soldiers who killed them last Tuesday, June 15, an indigenous people’s advocacy group said.

Way too many bullets were also fired on Angel’s face, making her unrecognizable despite stitches that now hold her shattered head together.

An aunt (name withheld for security reasons) also told Save Our Schools Network the Angel’s genitals were defiled.

Gibastos gyud ang iyang lawas, gi-rape, gihilabtan, guba kaayo ang atubangan,” the relative said. (They defiled her body, she was raped, her genitals torn apart.)

In February 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered government soldiers to fire guns at suspected rebels’ vaginas, adding, “If there is no vagina, it (the women) would be useless.”

“Tell the soldiers. ‘There’s a new order coming from the mayor. We won’t kill you. We will just shoot your vagina,’” Duterte said from the presidential palace.

Devastated family

The sisters,along with cousin Willy Rodriguez, were killed in the second massacre in Lianga, Surigao del Sur since September 1, 2015.

The 3rd Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army told the victims’ relatives they were pursuing New People’s Army guerrillas when a fire fight ensued that had the three killed as hapless bystanders.

The claim however contradicted statements made from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) general headquarters and by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) that the three were NPA fighters who first fired at them that resulted in a 10-minute fire fight.

Both also alleged Angel was a NPA child warrior.

But the victims’ relatives said the young Lumad-Manobo farmers and three other kin simply took a break from harvesting abaca hemp at their farm and went to Lianga town proper to buy rice.

They came across the soldiers who, without warning, opened fire at them. The three were killed while the other three were able to run away.

The victim’s families were only made aware of the incident at around 10 o’clock Tuesday evening after soldiers presented to them the lifeless body of Angel, wrapped in plastic and packaging tape.

Lenie and Willy’s bodies were later found in a separate location.

When the Rivas family were able to uncover Angel’s body at a funeral home Wednesday morning, they were shocked at the gruesome state of body and her once pretty face that was already full of crude stitches.

From pictures sent to journalists by the SOS Network, Angel’s face now looks like a grotesque mask that is mangled and askew beyond recognition. Her right eye lid is also missing, revealing an empty socket were her eye used to be.

Her aunt told SOS that Angel and Lenie’s father was devastated.


Lenie’s body was also full of stitches while Willy’s had fractures in his limbs wrapped with packaging tape, suggesting that he might have been tortured or had bones broken after being shot.

The soldiers also reportedly tried to stop the families from taking photographs of the bodies.

SOS said a certain Colonel Aranas offered to pay all funeral expenses but was rejected by the relatives.

Angel was an honor student of the Tribal Filipino School in Surigao Sur (TRIFPSS) who transferred to the Department of Education Alternative Learning System during the pandemic. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Bicol NDF says Masbate ‘clash’ another police canard

The group said the three massacre victims were civilians and not communist guerrillas.

The National Democratic Front in the Bicol Region (NDF-Bikol) denied a clash happened between the New People’s Army (NPA) and government forces in Masbate last June 8 that the Philippine National Police (PNP) claimed resulted in the death of three communist guerrillas.

The three victims were civilians who were abducted and later killed by troops of the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (PA) and the provincial police, NDF-Bikol spokesperson Ma. Roja Banua said in statements.

In a June 9 statement, Banua said the government troops indiscriminately fired their guns from four to eight o’clock Tuesday morning and abducted farmers Ramon ‘Boy’ Valenzuela Brioso of Sitio Mabuaya, Matiporon, Milagros; Antonio ‘Tony’ Polegrantes of Barangay Hermosa, Cawayan; and Ailyn ‘Eket’ Bulalacao Gracio of Sitio Bantolinao, Barangay Amutag, Aroroy.

Brioso, 58 years old, was chief cowboy of 7R Ranch while Polegrantes was barangay Hermosa chief tanod, Banua said in another statement today.

PNP-Bicol claimed the three were NPA guerrillas who were part of the group behind the bomb blast that killed footballer Keith Absalon and his cousin Nolven on June 6 in Masbate City.

Bicol regional police spokesperson Maj. Maria Luisa Calubaquib claimed a firefight happened between 30 suspected NPA fighters and a PNP-PA composite team in Barangay Anas, Masbate City at 5:30 a.m. last Tuesday.

The government troopers were reportedly serving an arrest warrant to murder suspect Arnold Rosero the police said may be the leader of the group who detonated the bomb that killed the Absalons.

The police added that the bodies of three dead were found at the clash site after the 15-minute firefight.

The PA for its part claimed guns, ammunition and bomb parts were found near the clash site.

Philippine Army 9th Infantry Division public affairs chief Capt. John Paul Belleza claimed government soldiers found 14 M16 rifles, an M653 rifle, an M14 rifle, bullets, tents and bomb parts in a nipa hut at the boundary of barangays Anas and Bolo.

Banua however denied a clash happened between the NPA’s Jose Rapsing Command and the government troops last Tuesday.

“The police must be drunk from gunpowder-induced illusions when it claimed they confiscated 17 firearms, command-detonated explosives and other war materiel from a made-up clash,” Banua said.

The NDF spokesperson also revealed that the Masbate Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (PTF-ELCAC) had already repeatedly announced Rosero killed in various clashes in the past years.

The latest claim by the local police was issued to please newly-appointed PNP chief Guillermo Eleazar, Banua said.

“In their haste to take advantage of the NPA’s humble admission of its mistake (in the Absalons’ deaths), they are telling a multitude of lies that are easily disproven. They will also personally benefit from the reward monies they are sure to claim from the national TF-ELCAC,” Banua added.

NDF-Bikol challenged investigating groups to look into how the government’s anti-communist task force is taking advantage of the Absalon family’s grief as well as the death of the three “farmer-civilians.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Mass killing of Filipino activists appalls United Nations

A few weeks after the Rodrigo Duterte government assured the international community of its commitment to uphold human rights, the United Nations (UN) said it is appalled by the series of mass killing of activists throughout the Philippines.

Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani in Geneva, Switzerland said the international body is “appalled by the apparently arbitrary killing of nine activists in simultaneous police-military operations” across four provinces last Sunday, March 7.

WATCH: Human Rights Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told reporters the Office of the High Commissioner was “appalled” by the killing of nine human rights activists in the Philippines.

Shamdasani noted that the latest mass killing and arrest of activists, like in the December 30, 2020 massacre of nine Tumandok in Panay Island, was conducted at nighttime.

“We are deeply worried that these latest killings indicate an escalation in violence, intimidation and harassment and red tagging of human rights defenders,” she said.

Shamdasani added there is a history of human rights advocates of being red-tagged or being accused of being fronts for the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, an allegation unanimously denied by the families of the victims of the various massacres.

 “In our June 2020 report, the [UN] high commissioner (for human rights Michelle Bachelet) warned that such public labeling has proved to be extremely dangerous and she urged the protection of human rights defenders, journalists and others at risk,” Shamdasani said.

“In recent months, there has been dozens of activists and journalists who have been arrested, including on human rights day on December 2020,” referring to recently-freed Manila Today editor Lady Ann Salem and six labor union organizers arrested with her.

Making his spokesperson a liar

The international body’s condemnation came merely two weeks after justice secretary Menardo Guevarra assured the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) last February 24 the Duterte government had adopted measures “to minimize loss of lives during legitimate law enforcement operations.”

Guevarra added that the Philippines “strongly emphasizes that its legal and judiciary system and domestic accountability mechanisms are functioning as they should.”

Guevarra had been the designated spokesperson for the Philippine government at UNHRC sessions since late 2020 after combative statements by officials earlier failed to deflect criticisms of the Duterte government’s mass murder of suspected drug users, critics and other civilians.

At the 44th General Session of the UNHRC last June 2020, the international body severely criticized the Duterte government for its woeful human rights record.

In a 26-page report last June 4, the UNHRC said the Duterte government’s heavy-handed focus on countering national security threats and illegal drugs has resulted in serious human rights violations, including killings and arbitrary detentions, as well as the vilification of dissent.

The UN also condemned Duterte’s ill-defined and ominous language, “coupled with repeated verbal encouragement by the highest level of State officials to use lethal force, may have emboldened police to treat the circular as permission to kill.”

Duterte ignored the condemnation again when he issued shoot-to-kill and “ignore human rights” orders against alleged communists to state forces when he presided over a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict meeting at Cagayan de Oro City last Friday.

Families of the nine killed last Sunday vow the victims were civilians, however. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

VP Robredo blames Duterte’s ‘kill’ rant for massacre

Vice President Leni Robredo blamed President Rodrigo Duterte’s “finish them off” and “ignore human rights” rant for the massacre of nine civilians last Sunday, March 7.

In a statement, Robredo said she condemns the massacre she likened to the many innocents killed by the Duterte administration.

“There is no other way to describe this: it was a massacre,” Robredo said.

The Vice President noted that the incident came just two days after Duterte himself ordered the police and the military to kill suspected communists in a rant before the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in Cagayan de Oro City last frint.

“This is the painful truth: The killing of Filipinos goes unabated,” Robredo said in Filipino.

“The Filipino people deserve better than this murderous regime,” she added.

Churh groups demand justice

Meanwhile, church groups also condemned the massacre and called on Duterte to choose the rule of law over militarization.

In separate statements, the Council of the Laity of the Philippines (CLP) and Caritas Philippines, both groups under the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, called for justice.

“The blood of these fellow Filipinos are literally crying for justice as they are wiped-off from the floor tiles of their homes,” CLP, through its president Rouquel Ponte, said.

“We call on peace-loving Filipinos to make strong statements of condemnation against these brutal and organized atrocities,” it added.

“We condemn in the strongest terms the ‘Bloody Sunday initiated by the members of the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Army,” Caritas for its part said.

Caritas called on the Supreme Court to fast-track the ongoing discussions and review of the controversial Anti-Terror Act the law’s opponents say emboldens the unnecessary use of force “which only victimizes the poor and the vulnerable. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

CHR: Duterte’s kill order emboldens impunity

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said President Rodrigo Duterte’s order “to shoot and kill right away” may have encouraged the massacre and mass arrest of activists in Southern Tagalog on Sunday, March 7.

CHR spokesperson Atty. Jacqueline de Guia said the national human rights institution expresses concern on Duterte’s statement on Friday, 5 March, to not only kill communists but to “ignore human rights.”

De Guia said: “Words matter and such words can embolden some to act with abuse and impunity.”

The mass killing and arrests of prominent activists and unionists in Rizal, Cavite, Laguna and Batangas in an operation called Conduct of Simultaneous Implementation of Search Warrants was launched two days after Duterte ordered the police and military at a meeting in Cagayan de Oro City of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

“If there’s an encounter and you see them armed, kill! Kill them! Don’t mind human rights! I will be the one to go to prison, I don’t have qualms,” the President said.

‘Brutal deaths’

Reacting to the brutal deaths of nine activists across three provinces, however, de Guia said, “CHR finds the number of deaths most concerning in light of the pattern of prevalent red-tagging and escalating attacks against activists,” de Guia said.

De Guia said the government is primarily obligated to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of everyone.

“Where the right to life is concerned, the government has the utmost obligation to fulfil its obligation—no matter which side of the political spectrum one belongs,” the lawyer added.

The CHR called on the government to urgently investigate, “given the brutal nature of the deaths and allegations of irregularities in the said law enforcement operations. “

De Guia also reminded the government to honor its domestic and international commitment to uphold, respect and protect human rights.

“We have yet to see concrete response to our repeated plea for tangible reduction of violence on the ground,” she said.

De Guia added that its Region IV-A (CALABARZON) office CHR is pursuing independent probes into the bloody operations. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

ASVAL is Southern Tagalog bloodbath’s name

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has revealed the name of the operation in four provinces in Southern Tagalog that massacred nine and arrested several other activists Sunday, March 7.

The police said it served search warrants in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, and Rizal provinces in a Conduct of Simultaneous Implementation of Search Warrants dubbed COPLAN ASVAL.

The PNP in the CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) region bragged it “scored big time during the Simultaneous Implementation of Search Warrants” against alleged communist groups.

It said it “implemented” all 24 search warrants issued by trial courts that killed nine and arrested six activists. Nine others are still at large.

According to human rights group Karapatan-Southern Tagalog, the names of those killed include:

  • Michael Dasigao and Mark “Mak Mak” Lee Coros Bacasno in Rodriguez, Rizal;
  • Manny Asuncion in Dasmarinas, Cavite; and
  • Couple Anna Mariz and Ariel Evangelista in Nasugbu, Batangas.

Among those arrested were:

  • Steve Mendoza and Elizabeth Camoral in Cabuyao, Laguna;
  • Nimfa Lanzanas in Calamba, Laguna;
  • Eugene Eugenio in Antipolo city.

Activist Lino Baez was among those who eluded arrest.

The police refused to divulge the names of the four others killed, five others arrested and eight others at large.

The PNP said all targets are communist “terrorists” who allegedly illegally possessed guns and explosives.

In press releases and television interviews, the PNP claimed those who turned up dead “fought to the operatives (sic).”

Human rights defenders condemn the massacre and mass arrest in Southern Tagalog. (Bulatlat photo)

Legal activists as counter-insurgency targets

PNP-CALABARZON director B.Gen. Felipe Natividad admitted that the killing and arrest of the activists are part of the government’s counter-insurgency campaign.

“We have to act together to end the 51 year-old communist insurgency in the country. This is just one of the many initiatives and programs of the present government, and the Philippine National Police together with our counterparts in the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Natividad said.

The police added ASVAL is part of “collaborative efforts” with the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict to address insurgency.

“We have intensified our cracked down against members of CTGs (communist terrorist groups) in the region along with our counter-white area operations to convince these individuals to lay-down their arms and voluntarily surrender to authorities,” Natividad added.

COPLAN ASVAL was launched as two days after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the police and military at a meeting in Cagayan de Oro City of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

“If there’s an encounter and you see them armed, kill! Kill them! Don’t mind human rights! I will be the one to go to prison, I don’t have qualms,” the President said.

Human rights defenders call for justice for the victims of the PNP-AFP’s COPLAN ASVAL. (Bulatlat photo)

Known legal activists

COPLAN ASVAL’s victims are known legal activists, however.

Dasigao, a community organizer and an officer of a Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap-affiliate organization, led relief operations after massive floods hit Kasiglahan Village in Rodriguez, Rizal late last year.

Asunsion was a well-known Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)-Cavite coordinator whose cadaver appear to have been dragged by the police from the upper floor of the Worker’s Assistance Center in Dasmarinas, Cavite, leaving streaks of blood on the floor and stairs.

The Evangelista couple were fisher folk rights advocates who were very much alive when dragged away by the police but later turned up dead in a funeral parlor in Nasugbu, Batangas.

Mendoza is executive vice-president of OLALIA-Kilusang Mayo Uno; Lanzanas is a paralegal of the political prisoners support group Kapatid-Southern Tagalog; Camoral is BAYAN-Laguna spokesperson; Eugenio is president of the Advancement of Rights and Responsibilities of Organized Workers LGU (ARROWS) – Antipolo City Hall; while Baez is an officer of BAYAN-Batangas. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

(Bulatlat photo)

2ND UPDATE: Massacre and mass arrest as SEMPO rampages in Southern Tagalog

By Joseph Cuevas

(This is a developing story. Refresh for more updates.)

Five activists were killed while four others were arrested in a joint Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations in Laguna, Rizal, Cavite and Batangas provinces Sunday morning, eve of International Women’s Day, March 7.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) conducted joint Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations (SEMPO) in the four provinces that resulted in the massacre and arrests.

In Rodriguez, Rizal, Michael Dasigao, officer of a Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap-affiliate organization and a Mark “Mak Mak” Lee Coros Bacasno were shot dead by the police, an alert from human rights organization Karapatan-Southern Tagalog said.

Manny Asuncion

In Cavite, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)-Cavite coordinator Manny Asuncion was brutally killed after police and military raided the Workers’ Assistance Center in Dasmariñas.

Photos released by Kilusang Mayo Uno’s Southern Tagalog chapter Pamantik show that Asuncion’s body appear to have been dragged from the center’s upper floor, leaving streaks of blood on the floor and stairs.

In Nasugbu, Batangas, activist couple Anna Mariz and Ariel Evangelista were found dead in a funeral home hours after police raided their house in Nasugbu.

Their 10-year old child was able to escape.

In Barangay Mamatid, Cabuyao, Laguna, Steve Mendoza, executive vice-president of OLALIA-Kilusang Mayo Uno, was arrested at his house at around 3:15 this morning.

Nimfa Lanzanas

Nimfa Lanzanas of Kapatid-Southern Tagalog, and aide for political prisoners in the region, was arrested in front of her grandchildren at her house in Calamba City.

Elizabeth Camoral, spokesperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) in Laguna, was also arrested after the police raided the office of farmers’s group Defend Yulo at around 4:30 in the morning in Cabuyao.

In Antipolo City, Rizal, Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE)-Rizal member Eugene Eugenio was also arrested.

Eugenio is president of the Advancement of Rights and Responsibilities of Organized Workers LGU (ARROWS) – Antipolo City Hall.

Meanwhile, Lino Baez of BAYAN-Batangas missed being arrested as he was absent when his house was raided where the police said they found illegal guns.

Elizabeth Camoral

Karapatan Southern Tagalog is investigating reports of other arrests, including of Dumagat tribes people in Tanay, Rizal.

Manila Regional Trial Court First Vice Executive Judge Jose Lorenzo De La Rosa issued the search warrants used in the SEMPO.

The massacre and mass arrest today followed the simultaneous arrests of unionists Ramir Corcolon in San Pablo City and former Lakas ng Manggagawang Nagkakaisa sa Honda union leader Arnedo Laguinas in Sta. Rosa, both in Laguna province, last March 4.

SEMPO, previously implemented in Negros and Panay islands, has consistently resulted in massacres and mass arrests of activists.

Its latest implementation before this morning’s incident resulted in the massacre of nine and the mass arrest of Tumandok tribes people in Iloilo and Capiz provinces last December.

The Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan said it condemns the “tokhang-style” attacks against progressive groups in the region and demanded justice for those killed today. # (With Raymund B. Villanueva. Photos provided by Karapatan ST)

CPP reveals Baguio raid victim was top leader, vows justice

GENEVA, Switzerland—A victim of the Baguio City raid last Friday, March 13, turned out to be a top leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), statements by the underground revolutionary movement in the Philippines revealed.

In a statement, the CPP said Julius Giron, one of the victims in the early morning raid, was a stalwart of the Party’s Central Committee, its Political Bureau and Executive Committee member who served the party’s central organs over the past three decades.

The underground group said Giron played a key role in reconstituting the Party’s leadership in 2014 when alleged CPP chairperson Benito Tiamzon and secretary general Wilma Tiamzon were arrested in Cebu province.

It said Giron brought together more than a hundred Party cadres to hold the Party’s Second Congress in 2016 when he was elected to the CPP’s Central Committee, its Political Bureau and as one of the key officers of its Executive Committee.

The government announced Giron’s killing, along with one Lourdes Tan Torres/Ma. Lourdes Dineros Tangco and an unnamed aide in a joint military and police operation at about 3:30 AM in Barangay Queen of Peace in Baguio City last Friday.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claimed Giron and companions “resisted arrest, prompting authorities to retaliate in a search warrant operation.”

The CPP however said there was no fire fight and the raiding party fired at the victims at close range in an execution-style killing.

“Claims made by the military and police that they were about to serve an arrest warrant are outright lies. It was a liquidation operation, a massacre, carried out at 3 a.m. with the clear aim of assassinating Giron and eliminating all witnesses,” the CPP said.

“The entire Party and all revolutionary forces are enraged over the murder of Ka Nars,” the group added.

Stellar revolutionary career

The CPP said Giron was among the young cadres who pioneered revolutionary work in the Cordilleras and other Northern Luzon regions in the 1970s.

The group said Giron helped forged Igorot unity, and in rousing, organizing and mobilizing the national minority groups in resisting national oppression, defense of their ancestral land, and in their fight for autonomy.

Giron was in the Cordilleras during the people’s epic struggle against the Chico River Dam Project, the CPP revealed.

CPP founding chairperson Jose Maria Sison gave Giron high praises in a statement Tuesday, March 17, revealing the victim, like him, received religious tutelage from his mother and served as a sacristan to the Catholic priests in his grade school days.

Sison said Giron was a bright and sociable person in high school with plenty of friends.

“He was charismatic because he was intelligent and had a talent for singing and dancing. He also excelled at numbers and hoped to become an engineer. He enrolled in the course of Engineering in the University of the Philippines in Baguio but was able to finish only the first two years because of his heavy responsibilities as a leading activist,” Sison wrote.

He added that Giron joined the Kabataang Makabayan (KM) in 1970 and was a product of the First Quarter Storm (FQS) of 1970. Giron led the KM in Baguio City during the FQS.

“He often delighted and inspired the mass protests by reciting Amado Hernandez’s ‘Kung Tuyo Na ang Luha Mo, Aking Bayan’ to the music of ‘Ang Gabing Mapanglaw’. He helped build the Samahan ng mga Anak Pawis (SaAnPa) in Baguio City in 1970. He became an outstanding activist of the national democratic movement as he engaged in organizing workers in the transport, energy, and mining sectors,” Sison recalled.

Sison added that Giron became a member of the CPP in 1971 and assumed major responsibilities, serving with its Trade Union Bureau, participating in the organization of the CPP’s Northern Luzon Regional Party group, being designated a staff member of the Instructor’s Bureau of the CPP under the Education Department, and serving as team leader of an armed propaganda unit in Ifugao province.

Giron then went to Isabela province to instruct Political Officers of the New People’s Army (NPA) for regional and national deployment.

Giron during CPP’S Second National Congress in an undisclosed location in 2016. (CPP photo)

“As Founding Chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines and Chief Political Consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, I honor Comrade Julius Soriano Giron with the Red salute and express the highest respect and commendation for his martyrdom and for his long record as a communist leader and revolutionary fighter in the Filipino people’s struggle for national liberation and democracy,” Sison said.

He also condoled with his late comrade’s family and to all of Giron’s comrades, relatives and friends.

“I share with them profound grief over his demise and at the same the pride and joy for his lifelong and fruitful service to the people in their noble cause and struggle for national and social liberation from foreign monopoly capitalism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism,” Sison said.

“Comrade Julius served the people in the best way that he could and in the most exemplary way, died as a martyr and will therefore live forever in the hearts and minds of the people and in the continuance of the people’s democratic revolution with a socialist perspective. His murder in the hands of the armed minions of the traitorous, tyrannical, genocidal, corrupt and mendacious [Rodrigo] Duterte regime outrages the people and incites them to intensify their revolutionary struggle,” Sison said.

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Peace Negotiating Panel, its consultants, personnel and staff also extended condolences to the comrades, family, relatives and friends of Giron and his two companions.

“While in detention during the years of the Marcos dictatorship, we came to know of Comrade Julius’ artistry.  He was a good painter and headed the painting group inside prison. Indeed, his deep love for the Cordillera people is reflected in his paintings and poetry which are on display in his wake,” NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said.

“We render the highest salute to Comrade Julius for his selfless commitment and lifelong dedication to the revolutionary movement of the people for national freedom, democracy, social justice and genuine peace,” Agcaoili said.

Peace consultant

Agcaoili revealed that Giron was one of NDFP’s senior consultants in the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines)-NDFP peace talks on social, economic and political reforms, as well as end of hostilities and disposition of forces and was in fact designated as National Consultant Number 1.

“He was holder of Document of Identification (DI) number 978410 under the name of Arnold Cruz as National Consultant 1, which entitled him to protection and immunity under the JASIG (Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees),” Agcaoili said.

“The martyrdom of Comrade Julius and his companions inspires us even more to firmly pursue the Filipino people’s struggle for national and social liberation and for genuine and lasting peace,” he added.

The CPP said it will exact justice on Giron’s killers.

“Giron was, in fact, murdered in cold blood. The perpetrators and masterminds of the assassination of the Girons are criminals. The Party and revolutionary movement will make sure that they will pay for their crime,” it said.

Giron was convalescing in Baguio due to illnesses brought about by his advanced age, the CPP said. He was 70 years old. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Ika-33 anibersaryo ng masaker sa Mendiola, ginunita

Nagtipon sa tulay ng Mendiola sa Maynila ang mga progresibong grupo sa pangunguna ng Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas upang gunitain ang masaker na pumatay sa 13 magsasaka noong 1987.

Kasabay ng panawagan ng hustisya para sa mga martir ng Mendiola ay ang pagpapatuloy ng usapang pangkapayapaan sa pagitan ng National Democratic Front of the Philippines at Government of the Republic of the Philippines na ang susunod na adyenda ay ang Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms kabilang na ang tunay na reporma sa lupa para sa mga magsasaka. (Bidyo ni Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

State forces disrupt psycho-social activity for Canlaon church workers

By Visayas Today

SAN CARLOS CITY – State forces disrupted a psycho-social activity organized for church workers in Canlaon City, Negros Oriental in the wake of the March 30 killing of eight persons there by police during what was initially dubbed an “anti-crime operation” that authorities later admitted targeted alleged communist rebels.

The eight were among 14 persons in all – including two barangay captains in Manjuyod town – who died during “Oplan Sauron 2.0,” which police said was the continuation of the original Oplan Sauron of December 27, that saw six persons slain, mostly in Guihulngan City, also in Negros Oriental.

Police claimed the fatalities were all communist rebels who supposedly fought back when officers served search warrants on them. But the account of the families of the dead, many of whom did not know and lived far from each other, indicated they were executed in cold blood.

Among those killed in Canlaon were the chairman of a local farmers’ organization that authorities have openly tagged as a “legal front” of communist rebels, a law minister of the parish and two volunteer church workers.

Fr. Edwin Laude. (Visayas Today)

Fr. Edwin Laude, pastoral director of the San Carlos diocese, said the activity was held at Canlaon’s St. Joseph parish church on Holy Wednesday to address the possible trauma of 12 church workers who had responded and reached out to the families of the slain.

While the activity was going on, he said, state security forces “in full combat gear” arrived at the church, saying they were there to “observe” what was going on but later “asking for the names of the participants and wanting to take their photos.”

The security personnel then said that “the next time any similar activity was held, we would need to ask the permission of the provincial government because psycho-social activities were part of medical missions, which are among the activities that need the permission of (Negros Oriental) Governor (Roel) Degamo to be held.”

Laude said they saw the disruption of the psycho-social activity by the security forces as a “threat,” stressing that “we are not hiding anything.”

Nevertheless, he added, San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza “has already asked the governor’s permission to assist the families” of those killed in Canlaon.

Laude also said that the communities where the March 30 victims lived and died still “live in fear” because of the continued presence of military and police personnel in combat gear, raising concerns the violence might be repeated.

He added that security forces, mainly in civilian clothes, also continue to be monitored around the Canlaon parish church.

“It is like martial law, only worse, because this is undeclared, subliminal, scarier,” Laude said, as he called the state security forces “praning” (paranoid).

At the same time, he said the church and the families of the victims are skeptical that police pledges of an “independent investigation” of the killings would amount to anything.

“People don’t see this” materializing, adding that the church’s request to “include the accounts of the victims’ families and of other witnesses” has so far been disregarded.

The only investigation whose findings the families are inclined to honor, said the priest, is that of the Commission on Human Rights.