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Negros killings prelude to martial law – NPA

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. #

Another murder in Canlaon hours before bells toll vs killings

By Visayas Today

Just five hours before church bells were to start tolling on Sunday, July 28, to call for an end to the wave of violence sweeping across Negros Oriental province, another person was killed in Canlaon City where, the day before, gunmen barged into the homes of a councilor and a barangay captain, killing them in cold blood.

An initial report from the Canlaon police identified the victim as Anaciancino Rosalita, married, of Barangay Bucalan, who was shot dead at the Oval Public Market in Barangay Panubigan.

The village is also where Councilor Ramon “Bobby Jalandoni” and Panubigan barangay captain Ernesto Posadas were murdered in the early hours of Saturday, July 27. Just hours after these murders, in Ayungon town, gunmen also stormed the home of former mayor Edsal Enardecido, killing him and his cousin Leo.

The report said a concerned citizen phoned the city police station to report the shooting incident around 3:05 p.m. at the Oval Public Market.

No other details were available.

Since July 18, when communist rebels ambushed four police intelligence officers in Ayungon, more than 20 civilians have been killed in various shooting incidents.

The bloodiest day was Thursday, July 25, when seven died, including sibling educators and a village chief in Guihulngan City, and a man and his year-old son in Sta. Catalina town. Among the other victims was lawyer Anthony Trinidad, who was shot dead, also in Guihulngan, on July 23.

The bloodshed prompted the four bishops of Negros – Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos, Julito Cortes of Dumaguete, Patricio Buzon of Bacolod and Louie Gabines of Kabankalan – to issue a joint pastoral statement ordering church bells to be rung throughout Negros island at 8 o’clock every night “until the killings stop.”

They have also issued an “Oratio Imperata to End the Killings in Negros Island.”

Negros bishops order tolling of bells ‘until killings stop’

By Visayas Today

All four CatholIc bishops of Negros island have ordered “church bells in all parishes, chaplaincies, mission stations, and religious houses every evening at 8 o’clock” starting Sunday, July 28, to protest a wave of violence in Negros Oriental province that has left at least 21 persons dead in little over a week.

The ringing of bells was originally ordered by San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, in whose diocese many of the killings have happened.

But he was joined on Saturday, July 27, through a collegial pastoral statement by Bishops Julito Cortes of Dumaguete, Patricio Buzon of Bacolod and Louie Gabines of Kabankalan, who said the tolling of the bells, combined with an “Oratio Imperata,” a prayer for a special intention, in this case to end the killings, is intended “to remind us of the value of life.”

The prayer seeks to “embolden our government officials to speak out against the killings,” to “challenge our police and military personnel to fully embrace their mandate to serve and protect the people,” and to “empower our communities to stand for the sanctity and primacy of life.”

The bells are to be rung “until the killings stop.”

Aside from the recent killings, the prelates also cited the earlier deaths of nine people massacred at a farmers’ protest camp in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last October and of 20 men killed during two massive police operations on December 27 last year and March 30.

“And this is just to cite a few,” they added.

Human rights groups have counted at least 85 extrajudicial killings on Negros since President Rodrigo Duterte.began his term in mid-2016.

“The blood of those killed cries to be heard. It calls out to our basic humanity to be one with those who have been afflicted by this violence,” they said.

“How many more killings will it take for us to be able to hear these cries, and be moved to say, we are our ‘brother’s keeper’?” they added.

FOLLOWING ARE THE FULL TEXTS OF THE COLLEGIAL STATEMENT AND THE ORATIO IMPERATA

COLLEGIAL PASTORAL STATEMENT OF THE NEGROS BISHOPS TO END THE KILLINGS 27 July 2019

The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” (Gen 4:10)

With the recent spate of killings in Negros, so much blood has already been spilled in the island. The blood of those killed cries to be heard. It calls out to our basic humanity to be one with those who have been afflicted by this violence.

The figures are staggering. Nine (9) killed on 20 October 2018; six (6) on 27 December 2018 and 14 on 30 March 2019. Then, in a period of just over a week – starting July 18 up until today, 21 were killed.

And this is just to cite a few.

Nevertheless, these numbers fill us with deep sadness. This unfolding cycle of violence and vendetta is a matter of grave concern for us.

How many more killings will it take for us to be able to hear these cries, and be moved to say, we are our ‘brother’s keeper’?

As your pastors, we unequivocally denounce this total disregard for the primacy and sanctity of human life.

Therefore, to remind us of the value of life, we instruct the Dioceses of Bacolod, Dumaguete, Kabankalan, and San Carlos to toll the church bells in all parishes, chaplaincies, mission stations, and religious houses every evening at 8 o’clock.

In the stillness of night, the tolling of the bells signifies our communion as Church. We are to remember those who have gone before us – including those whose lives have been snuffed by these killings – they, who are our brothers and sisters.

To deliver us from this violence, we pray the Oratio Imperata to End the Killings in Negros Island. We ask God to disturb those who are responsible for this evil and have blood in their hands that they may have a change of heart and be renewed.

Let us say this Oratio after the post-communion prayer in all our masses.

The tolling of the church bells and the praying of the Oratio will start this Sunday, 28 July 2019 and until the killings stop.

MOST REV. GERARDO A. ALMINAZA, D.D., Bishop of San Carlos

MOST REV. JULITO B. CORTES, D.D., Bishop of Dumaguete .

MOST REV. PATRICIO A. BUZON, SDB, D.D., Bishop of Bacolod

MOST REV. LOUIE P. GALBINES, D.D, Bishop of Kabankalan

ORATIO IMPERATA TO END THE KILLINGS IN NEGROS ISLAND

O God, our Father, who hears the cries of Your children, look upon us in Your mercy.

We pray that we be delivered from the evil of the killings that stalks our island. It is a violence that has deprived our people of peace; a violence that has orphaned many families; and a violence that has traumatized and instilled paralyzing fear in our communities.

Stretch out your loving hands, O Father, and move us so that we may truly be our ‘ brother’s keeper’.

Embolden our government officials to speak out against the killings. Challenge our police and military personnel to fully embrace their mandate to serve and protect the people. Empower our communities to stand for the sanctity and primacy of life.

Disturb those responsible for this evil and have blood in their hands, especially the ones who are impelled by their ideological agenda. May they have a change of heart and be renewed.

Be with us, O Lord, so that, in these dark times, we may have the courage to be instruments of Your peace.

This we ask through Jesus Your Son, the Prince of Peace, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, the Giver of Life, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Mary, Queen of Peace and Mother of life, pray for us. St. Catherine of Alexandria, Patron Saint of the Diocese of Dumaguete, pray for us. St. Charles Borromeo, Patron Saint of the Diocese of San Carlos, pray for us. St. Francis Xavier, Patron Saint of the Diocese of Kabankalan, pray for us. St. Sebastian, Patron Saint of the Diocese of Bacolod, pray for us.

NEGROS ISLAND 27 July 2019

Bishop issues oratio imperata against Negros killings

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos issued another pastoral appeal asking the people of Negros Oriental to pray with him following the murder of four more civilians early Saturday morning.

In his third pastoral letter this week, Bishop Alminaza issued an urgent call to prayer and action to end the killings in Negros Island via an oratio imperata.

“Heavenly Father, the source of life and foundation of peace, we your children mourn, worry, and are anxious because of the successive murders of our brothers and sisters.

We beg you, awaken the minds of those who don’t even care, disturb the conscience of those who author the killings, touch the hearts of those who support the murders, and comfort those who mourn.

Give us the strength to fight evil with good, and to reject crooked ways. Protect us from the lies of the devil, and free our country from the power of Satan. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

(Alminaza’s Oratio Imperata of Cebu)

An oratio imperata is a short Roman Catholic invocative prayer a bishop issues in times of grave need and calamities.

Alminaza’s appeal came after four more executions within his diocese were reported by human rights organizations.

“Today, in Canlaon City and in Ayungon, Negros Oriental, four lives again perished from gun barrels of criminals. When life is always sacred, these criminals have treated life as dispensable,” the prelate said.

Former Ayungon mayor Edcel Enardecido and his cousin Leo Enardecido were killed around 2:30 a.m. while Canlaon City Councilor Bobby Jalandoni and Barangay Panubigan Chairperson Ernesto Posadas were killed separately, bringing to at least 21 the deaths from a wave of violence that has swept the province of Negros Oriental since a week ago.

Bishop’s third pastoral appeal this week.

Alminaza said three of the latest victims were government officials close to the hearts of the poor in their localities.

“While serving as elected officials, they wholeheartedly defended those who have less in life and promoted programs to help them,” Alminaza said.

“Those who were killed are persons; they are not just numbers or statistics! We fervently pray that we may not continue counting dead bodies; that every one of us will continue protecting human lives,” he added.

The prelate said the “pattern of systemic killings” is alarming.

“Who will be next?” he asked.

Alminaza issued his first pastoral letter two days after the killing of human rights lawyer Anthony Trinidad in Dumaguete City last July 23.

Alminaza condemned Trinidad’s murder and the wounding of his wife and called for the resumption of the peace process between the Duterte government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines as a way to stop the attacks on civilians alleged to be supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

After the killing of three more civilians last Thursday, July 24, an angered Alminaza issued his second pastoral letter last Friday calling for the ringing of church bells around his diocese at 8 PM every evening starting Sunday.

Before that day ended, however, four more were killed, bringing to seven the number of civilians murdered last Thursday.

“In anger and in a call for justice, in a spirit of communion and in a collective prayer, we exhort our parishes, mission stations and religious houses to ring our church bells every 8PM stating this July 28, 2019 (Sunday) until the killings stop,” Alminaza said in his second pastoral appeal.

“Let the toiling of bells remind us that the senseless killings are inhuman. Let the tolling of the church bells call us to a collective prayer, for us to beg God to touch the hearts of perpetrators, as we call on responsible government agencies to effectively address the series of deaths,” the prelate added.

Alminaza’s second pastoral appeal exhorted the government to act on ending the killings. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

4, including ex-mayor, city councilor slain in Negros Oriental early Saturday

By Visayas Today

The former mayor of Ayungon and his cousin, and a councilor and village chairman of Canlaon City were killed early Saturday, July 27, bringing to at least 21 the deaths from a wave of violence that has swept the province of Negros Oriental since a week ago.

The Negros Oriental police office said former mayor Edcel Enardecido, 60, who had completed his three year-term limit, and his cousin Leo Enardecido, were killed around 2:30 a.m.

In Canlaon City, Councilor Bobby Jalandoni and Ernesto Posadas, barangay chairman of Panubigan, were killed separately.

Canlaon is where eight men – farmers and volunteer church workers – were killed in police operations on March 30.

Authorities claimed they were communist rebels who allegedly fought back when served search warrants but their families all gave closely similar accounts indicating they were executed.

Panubigan is the village where two of the eight – brothers Edgardo and Ismael Avelino – were killed.

Federico Sabejon, a resident of Barangay 3, Siaton town, was also killed 7 PM Friday night, July 26, by motorcycle-riding killers, the group Defend Negros #StopTheAttacks reported.

Thursday proved to be particularly bloody for the province, with seven killed, including a high school principal and his sister and fellow educator, a village chairman – all killed in Guihulngan City – and a man and his year-old son, slain when gunmen shot up their home in Sta. Catalina town.

On July 23, a lawyer who handled human rights cases and had been included in a hit list of a shadowy anti-communist group, was also killed in Guihulngan.

Angered by the bloodshed, San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, in whose diocese many of the murders have happened, has ordered church bells rung each night at 8.p.m. starting Sunday, July 28, “until the killings stop.”

Human rights groups monitoring the killings say the latest deaths, including one in Siaton Friday evening, bring the total of extrajudicial killings on Negros island to at least 83 since mid-2016.

Below is the list of EJK victims as reported by Defend Negros #StopTheAttacks:

2017

1. Alexander Ceballos, Jan. 20, 2017 –Murcia
2. Wenceslao Pacquiao- Jan. 25, 2017- – Calatrava
3. Oden Asebuche- May 16, 2017–South Negros
4. Arman Indeno- July 21, 2017- Don Salvador Benedicto (DSB)
5. Glenn Absin- July 23, 2017– Guihulngan
6. Alberto Tecson- July 24, 2017–Guihulngan
7. Danilo Salazar- July 28, 2017– Guihulngan
8. Rene Faburada- August 4, 2017–Guihulngan
9. Leodegario Benero Jr., August 17, 2017– Guihulngan
10. Marlyn Vidal – August 26, 2017 – Guihulngan
11. Oscar Asildo- August 30, 2017– Guihulngan
12. Luardo Yac- Sept. 7, 2017- – Guihulngan
13. Geofrey Absin- November 3, 2017– Guihulngan
14. Eden Bacordo-September 15, 2017—DSB
15. Leah Mae Sadoa-September 15, 2017–DSB
16. Arnold Larida-September 15, 2017–DSB
17.Webby Argabio- September 8, 2017Kabankalan City
18. Eleuterio Moises- November 28, 2017–Bayawan
19. Elisa Badayos- November 28, 2017
20. Flora Gemola- December 2017- NFSW Chair–Sagay City

2018

21. Ronald Manlanat- February 2018- NFSW–Sagay City
22. Jerry Turga-May 8, 2018–Moises Padilla
23. Edmund Sestoso, May 1, 2018–Dumaguete 
24. Julius Barellano- June 2018–NFSW
25. Robert Selendron–DSB
26. Heidie Malalay Flores- August 21, 2018–Guihulngan
27. Jaime Delos Santos- October 6, 2018, Pamalakaya chair- Guihulngan
28. Marchstel Sumicad- October 20, 2018 – Sagay 9 massacre victim
29. Rene Laurencio- October 20, 2018 – Sagay 9 massacre victim
30. Morena Mendoza- October 20, 2018 – Sagay 9 massacre victim
31. Marcelina Dumaguit- October 20, 2018 – Sagay 9 massacre victim
32. Angelife Arsenal- October 20, 2018 – Sagay 9 massacre victim
33. Eglicerio Villegas- October 20, 2018 – Sagay 9 massacre victim
34. Paterno Baron- October 20, 2018 – Sagay 9 massacre victim
35. Rannel Bantigue- October 20, 2018 – Sagay 9 massacre victim
36. Joemarie Oghayon- October 20, 2018 – Sagay 9 massacre victim
37. Benjamin Ramos Jr. – November 6, 2018 – Kabankalan City
38. Jessebel Abayle-February 21, 2018–Siaton
39. Carmelina Amantillo-February 21, 2018–Siaton
40. Consolacion Cadevida-February 21, 2018–Siaton
41. Felimon Molero-TFM- -February 21, 2018–Siaton
42. Dr. Avelex Amor –November 20, 2018–Canlaon
43. Jesus Isugan-December 27, 2018–Guihulngan
44. Demterio Fat-December 27, 2018–Guihulngan
45. Jaime Revilla-December 27, 2018–Guihulngan
46. Jun Cubul-December 27, 2018–Guihulngan
47. Reneboy Fat-December 27, 2018–Guihulngan
48. Constancio Languita-December 27,2018–Sta. Catalina
49. Gabby Alboro-December 28, 2018–Guihulngan

2019

50. Remegio Arqiullos-January 11, 2019–Guihulngan
51. Sanito “Tating” Delubio-March 1, 2019–DSB
52. Edgardo Avelino-March 30,2019–Kanlaon City
53. Ismael Avelino- March 30,2019–Kanlaon City
54. Rogelio Recomono-March 30,2019–Kanlaon City
55. Melchor Pañares -March 30,2019–Kanlaon City
56. Genes Palmares -March 30,2019–Kanlaon City
57. Mario Pañares -March 30,2019–Kanlaon City
58. Ricky Recomono -March 30,2019–Kanlaon City
59. Gonzalo Rosales-March 30,2019–Kanlaon City
60. Anoj Enojo Rapada- March 30, 2019–Sta. Catalina
61. Franklin Lariosa-March 30, 2019–Sta. Catalina
62. Valentin Arcabal- March 30, 2019–Manjuyod
63. Sonny Palagtiw-March 30, 2019–Manjuyod
64. Steve Arapoc -March 30, 2019–Manjuyod
65. Manolo Martin- March 30, 2019–Manjuyod
66. Bernardino “Toto” Patigas-April 22, 2019–Escalante City
67. Felipe Dacal-Dacal – June 8 – Escalante City
68. Lito Itao- chief tanod, June 27, 2019–Buenavista, Guihulngan, Negros Oriental
69. Joemar Mahilum- July 2,2019–Escalante 
70. Salvador Romano, July 2, 2019–Manjuyod
71. Atty. Anthony Trinidad, July 24, 2019– Guihulngan
72. Rakilin Astorias July 25, 2019–Saiton
73. Reden Eleuterio July 25, 2019 — Ayungon
74. Arhtur Bayawa July 25, 2019–Guihulngan
75. Aldane Bayawa July 25, 2019–Guihulngan
76. Romeo Alipan, July 25, 2019–Buenavista, Guihulngan
77. Marlon Ocampo July 25, 2019–Sta. Catalina
78. Marjon Ocampo July 25, 2019–Sta. Catalina

79. Federico Sabejon, July 26, 2019–Siaton

80. Edcel Enardecido, July 27, 2019–Ayungon

81. Leo Enardecido, July 27, 2019–Ayungon

82. Bobby Jalandoni, July 27, 2019–Canlaon City

83. Ernesto Posadas, July 27, 201–Canlaon City

(With additional reports from Raymund B. Villanueva)

Bishop asks ringing of church bells vs killing of civilians in Negros

The Roman Catholic Bishop of San Carlos in Negros Oriental Gerardo Alminaza requested the ringing of church bells every eight o’clock in the evening starting Sunday to protest the non-stop killing of civilians in the entire Negros Island.

“In anger and in a call for justice, in a spirit of communion and in a collective prayer, we exhort our parishes, mission stations and religious houses to ring our church bells every 8PM stating this July 28, 2019 (Sunday) until the killings stop,” Alminaza said in his pastoral appeal issued Thursday.

“Let the toiling of bells remind us that the senseless killings are inhuman. Let the tolling of the church bells call us to a collective prayer, for us to beg God to touch the hearts of perpetrators, as we call on responsible government agencies to effectively address the series of deaths,” the prelate added.

Alminaza’s pastoral appeal is entitled “Exhortation to Government to Act on Ending the Killings, issued on the Roman Catholic saint St. James the Great on July 25, a day marked with a fresh wave of bloodletting throughout the province.

San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza’s second pastoral appeal this week. (Courtesy of Visayas Today)

Hours after the bishop issued the appeal, a father and child were shot dead in Sta. Catalina town, the sixth and seventh fatalities in a particularly bloody day in Negros Oriental, local news outfit Visayas Today reported.

Sta. Catalina police said Barangay San Jose council member Ramonito Nuque reported the killing of Marlon Ocampo and his unidentified child at Sitio Tara at around eight o’clock. Ocampo’s unnamed wife was also wounded, the report said.

The day started with the murder of school principal Arthur Bayawa and his school supervisor sister Aldane by gunmen who barged into their home in Barangay Hibaiyo in Guihulngan City at one o’clock in the morning.

Less than an hour later, Barangay Buenavista chairperson Romeo Alipan, was also shot dead inside his home in the same city.

Later in the day, gunmen also killed Raklin Astorias in Siaton town and Reden Eleuterio in Ayungon town, Visayas Today reported.

Bishop Alminaza said that the “barbaric deaths” of the victims, all happening in one day, are “manifestations of a total absence of peace and order.”

He challenged local government officials of the province to break out of their silence on the killings.

“Government leaders of the City of Guihulngan and of Negros province, please speak up! Let not your silence add to th growing number of killings. Let not yout silence embolden more the criminals. Be bold and join us in the cry to end the senseless killings!” Alminaza said.

San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza (Courtesy of Visayas Today)

The prelate also called on the police and military to protect the people, promote peace and “not act to instil fear.”

“Maintain peace, do not create violence Act within the law, not beyond it,” the bishop said.

Thursday’s pastoral appeal is Alminaza’s second this week.

Last Wednesday, Alminaza issued his first pastoral letter appealing for an end to violence following the killing of lawyer Anthony Trinidad in Guihulngan City.

He also called for the resumption of peace talks between the government and communist rebels as well as a meeting of clergy and lay leaders to discuss how they could help stem the bloodshed.

Activist groups and human rights defenders blamed Duterte’s Memorandum Order 32 of November 2018 ordering additional troops to for the increasing number of attacks against civilians. 

“Negros is now fast turning into a killing field and this should be stopped immediately,” Bayan Muna Rep. and human rights lawyer Carlos Zarate said Thursday.

“While we strongly demand justice for these innocent victims, we likewise strongly condemn the inutility of authorities in putting a stop to this utter madness,” Zarate, a human rights lawyer, added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Bloody morning: 3 civilians killed in Negros

Three more civilians were killed in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental in the early hours of Thursday.

Farmer Romeo Alipan was shot several times at home at around 1:40 AM. He was 64 years old.

The victim was chairperson of Guihulngan’s Barangay Buenavista and used to facilitate medical missions on behalf of Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura and other allied peasant organizations, Sama-samang Artista para sa Kilusang Agraryo announced.

Alipan was the 215th peasant killing under the Duterte regime, and the fourth in a string of murders in Guihulngan in the last three days.

His murder was preceded by that of a school principal and his sister, also a Department of Education official at around 1 AM.

Siblings Arthur and Ardale Bayawa were shot dead inside their home in Barangay Hibaiyo by unidentified assailants.

Anthony Trinidad, a lawyer who had represented political prisoners as well as peasants in the region, was killed by gunmen last Tuesday.

Prior to his murder, the lawyer was accused of being a communist supporter and sent death threats by the anti-communist group Kawsa Guihulnganon Batok Komunista.

In response to the killings, San Carlos Bishop Gerard Alminaza called on the local clergy and lay leaders to think of ways to end the bloodshed.

“What’s happening to our Island? When will these killings ever stop?” Alminaza asked.

“I’m asking our priests and lay leaders serving in the area to meet and discern together what collective action to take in response to this worsening situation so we don’t give in to despair, complacency and numbness and put an end to this!” the prelate said.

Alminaza earlier issued a pastoral statement calling for an end to the killings and the resumption of peace talks between the government and communist rebels following Trinidad’s murder.

Activist groups and human rights defenders blamed Duterte’s Memorandum Order 32 of November 2018 ordering additional troops to Negros as well as Bicol and Samar for the increasing number of attacks against civilians. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Lawyer shot dead in Negros Oriental as chief of village where 4 cops killed allegedly commits suicide

By Visayas Today

A lawyer was shot dead while his wife and a pedicab driver were injured when the couple was attacked by two motorcycle-riding killers in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental Tuesday afternoon, July 23.

The same day, the chief of the village in Ayungon town where four policemen were killed by communist rebels in a July 18 ambush also died in a hospital, one day after allegedly drinking pesticide, Negros Oriental police director Colonel Raul Tacaca said.

Barangay Mabato chairman Sunny Caldera (Photo from Visayas Today)

A police report said lawyer Anthony Trinidad and his wife Novie Marie, both 53 and residents of San Carlos City, Negros Occidental, were in their SUV when they were fired on in the center of Guihulngan.

Their vehicle hit the pedicab driven by Guillermo Magdasal, 52, before hitting a concrete wall.

The three were rushed to the Guihulngan District Hospital where the lawyer was declared dead.

Last year, Trinidad was reportedly among the names in a hit list by an alleged anti-communist group called Kawsa Guihulnganon Batok Komunista (KAGUBAK), according to Defend Negros #StopTheAttacks Network.

Defend Negros condemned the senseless killing of the lawyer.

Meanwhile, Tacaca said Barangay Mabato chairnan Sunny Caldera, 51, had been found vomiting by the roadside with a pesticide container near him on Monday.

He was brought to Bindoy District Hospital then transferred to the Silliman University Medical Center in Dumaguete City where he expired the next day.

Earlier, police Region 7 chief Brigadier General Debold Sinas said they were looking into Caldera’s possible involvement to the deaths of the four personnel of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion.

Sinas said the village chief, who had reportedly been seen talking to one of the policemen before they were killed, had not warned them that the area was a “mass base” of the rebels.

Tacaca acknowledged they had yet to talk to Caldera’s family.

The Mt. Cansermon Command of the New People’s Army owned responsibility for the ambush on the policemen.

“Based on our intelligence report, the four police operatives were gathering information and surveilling the area for another round of Oplan Sauron or Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations where innocent civilians are killed by uniformed personnel in the guise of counter-insurgency efforts,” the rebels said in a statement released Monday.

“These police officers have been long harassing the residents of the area for allegedly supporting the revolutionary movement,” they claimed. “In fact, the residents were forced to evacuate because of continued intimidation.”

Multiple murder and theft charges have been filed against 20 suspected rebels for the ambush.

Also charged was Victoriano Anadon, a reported contact who the policemen were supposed to meet but who was later found to be allegedly linked to the rebels. #

Fernandez urges NPA in Negros to defend farmers from rights violations

National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Frank Fernandez urged revolutionary forces in Negros Island to intensify their campaigns against human rights violations, noting that “things have gotten much worse” under the Rodrigo Duterte government.

“The revolutionary forces must bring the struggle to a higher stage as the systematic campaign against the peasants and the activists have become much worse since I was last there,” Fernandez said.

Speaking from his hospital bed at the Philippine Heart Center (PHC), Fernandez said it is a testament to the strength of the revolutionary forces in the island that Duterte has ordered the deployment of more Philippine Army infantry brigades in the island since November.

Duterte issued Executive Order 32 in November 2018 ordering more troop deployment in Negros, Bicol and Samar in a bid to crush New People’s Army (NPA) units in the said regions.

Increased Armed Forces of the Philippines presence in Negros, however, has led to numerous human rights violations, Fernandez said.

Frank Fernandez in his hospital room.

Complete turnaround

Fernandez said the NPA in Negros has fully recovered from near decimation in the early 1990s.

“There was almost no NPA left in Negros in 1994,” Fernandez said.

He credited the NPA’s grasp of the correct political and ideological lines that allowed its forces to recover and overcome the schism with former comrades that broke away to form the so-called Revolutionary Proletarian Army and the Alex Boncayao Brigade.

Fernandez said that the poor masses helped in their recovery.

“The poor but struggling masses of Negros did not allow us to give up and encouraged us to rebuild,” Fernandez said.

The incarcerated NDFP peace consultant said it is time to repay the masses by defending them against the government and the landlords’ widespread human rights violations in the island.

Human rights violations

Intensifying agrarian reform struggles across the Negros Island has resulted to two massacres, assassinations of a human rights lawyer and a municipal councilor as well as killings and arrests of several farmers and human rights defenders.

Just yesterday, another human rights defender who was an active member of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente was murdered in his hometown of Manjuyod, Negros Oriental.

An urgent alert by the group Defend Negros said Salvador “Bador” Romano, 42, an adviser of the YIFI (Youth of the IFI) and former Negros Oriental coordinator of the human rights group Karapatan, was shot dead by motorcycle-riding gunmen around 12:30 p.m.

Last March 30, 10 peasants and church workers were killed in one night in Canlaon City and Sta. Rita, Negros Occidental.

Nine sugarcane farmers, including four women and two children, were also killed last October 20 in Sagay City. The bodies of three of the victims were also burned by their killers.

Human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos and Escalante City councilor Bernardino Patigas Sr., both described as martyrs of the sugar cane workers’ struggles, were killed on November 7 and April 22, respectively.

After Patigas’ murder, opposition Senator Leila de Lima denounced the murders, blaming the Duterte administration for “the snowballing record of human rights defenders killed in Negros Island.”

De Lima said Patigas’ murder raises suspicions that there is a death squad targeting rights advocates in the province because his killing “hews closely” to the type of killings regularly happening recently.

The senator said Patigas’ murder was the 48th in Negros under Duterte.

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Carlos also condemned the killings and called on the Duterte government to respect human rights.

“In sadness, we all are crying out: End the Killings! These barbaric and calculated assassinations must end! We should not tolerate this kind of crime,” the bishop said in a statement last April.

Fernandez, for his part, urged for the resumption of the abandoned peace talks between the NDFP and the Duterte government in order for the human rights situation in Negros to be addressed by the negotiating panels.

“It would be favorable for the masses, as well as for jailed peace consultants like myself, if the peace talks would be revived,” he said.

Heart problems

Fernandez was taken to the PHC last Friday to undergo laboratory examinations.

“I am suffering from heart ailments, spinal column problems, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, arthritis, and hypertension. There may be more,” he told Kodao.

Fernandez said he left Negros more than a year ago to seek medical treatment in Manila when nabbed by military and police operatives in Liliw, Laguna last March 24.

“Doctors of the Philippine Army General Hospital in Fort Bonifacio discovered I also have hardening of the arteries close to my heart,” he said.

Fernandez has since been incarcerated at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City where his state of health has gotten worse.

“They often feed us porridge that are either so unpalatable or are so sweet when made into champorado (chocolate porridge).  For lunch and dinner, they feed us papaya soup with sardines or miswa noodles with sardines,” he said.

The Sta. Cruz Regional Trial Court in Laguna ordered the 71-year old Fernandez to be taken to the PHC for medical check up. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Death threat vs activists sent to Bayan-Negros leader after Patigas murder

By Visayas Today

The secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Negros received a death threat directed against him and other activist leaders just hours after Escalante City Councilor Bernardino “Toto” Patigas was murdered.

Mike dela Concepcion said a series of text messages was sent to his phone from the number +639999019988 just before 8 p.m.

Patigas, a survivor of the September 20, 1985 Escalante massacre who went into human rights work and sustained his advocacy even after entering politics, was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen as he returned from campaigning around 4:30 p.m. Monday, April 22.

The message to Dela Concepcion began with “Condolences,” then went on to say, “Nagsugod kmi sang priority, ikaw, si Clarissa, Roque, Nolie, Rey, Aldren, Patigas, Cristian, Dolly kg alyas Tatay Ogie nga ara makaita sa Silay kag Liberted. Ini tanan amo prioridad nga tapuson sa sini nga tuig.”

(We have begun our priority, you, Clarissa, Roque, Nolie, Rey, Aldren, Patigas, Cristian, Dolly and alias Tatay Ogie who can be found in Silay and Libertad. All these are priorities we have to finish this year.)

Clarissa refers to Clarissa Singson, secretary general of Karapatan-Negros; Roque to Rolando Rillo, chairman of the National Federation of Sugar Workers; Nolie to Noli Rosales, secretary general of the Kilusang Mayo Uno-Negros; Aldren to NFSW regional vice chairman Aldrin Aloquina; Cristian is apparently NFSW regional secretary general Christian Tuayon; Rey Alburo of the North Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, of which Patigas was formerly secretary general; Dolly Celedonio of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Negros; and Hernani “Tay Ogie” Barros of the NFSW.

All the names mentioned in the text messages have been openly accused of being supporters or members of the communist rebel movement. Some of them have had charges filed against them for their supposed involvement with the rebels.

In a related development, Cristina Palabay, national secretary general of Karapatan, said she also received the same text message from the same number roughly around the time Dela Concepcion did. #