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Human rights lawyer survives murder attempt

A lawyer, counsel to human rights violations victims and petitioners against the Rodrigo Duterte government’s controversial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, had been stabbed in Iloilo City Wednesday night, March 3.

Atty. Angelo Karlo Guillen was stabbed with a screw driver on his lower left temple and back by two unidentified assailants at about 9:15 PM along Gen. Antonio Luna Street in the said city.

He was taken to the St. Paul Hospital and is reportedly in stable condition.

An assistant vice president for Visayas of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) and secretary general of its local chapter, Guillen serves as counsel in various public interest and human rights cases in both Panay and Negros islands.

The lawyer represents red-tagged activists and human rights defenders, including those arrested in the simultaneous raids in Bacolod City in October 2019 and the Tumandok arrested in Panay last December that also saw the killing of nine tribes people in two villages.

On May 1, 2020, Guillen was arrested when he tried to intervene in the mass arrest of 42 activists protesting the murder of Bayan Muna Iloilo coordinator Jory Porquia.

The assailants wore masks and caps, reports said.

Not a robbery

Groups and individuals said the assailants took pains to make it appear the attack was a common crime, a scenario the local police reportedly quickly supported.

“The attack against (the victim) was conveniently dismissed by the local PNP as robbery-hold up. Four hours after the incident there is still no hot-pursuit operation. There were no check points. Not even police visibility in the crime scene,” Lean Porquia, son of murdered Bayan Muna Iloilo City coordinator Jory, said.

Atty. Jose Edmund Guillen, Public Attorney’s Office Region VI chief and uncle to the victim also dismissed the police’s robbery theory.  

“You want to make it appear as a robbery? The CCTV footage says otherwise. It was a kill operation. Right on the dot, after the stabbing, two motorcycles arrived to pick up the masked killers and they disappear[ed] in the dark,” he said.

 “[W]e cannot be fooled by this, because we know for a fact that the state and its security forces have been targeting Atty. Guillen as well as other lawyers handling cases of activists not only in Panay island but in Negros island as well,” human rights group Karapatan Negros Oriental said in a statement.

State terror in Panay

Porquia said the lawyer’s laptop was taken that contained all the files of the cases he is handling, including his father’s murder, the Tumandok massacre, the anti terror law petition, the mass arrest of 42 activists, the Sagay 9 massacre, and several writ of Amparo cases.

“The attack on Atty. Guillen should be seen in the context of systematic, continuing, and increasing attacks on human rights and human rights defenders. Atty. Guillen has been redtagged for several times just like other peoples’ lawyers and human rights defenders who were tagged as ‘terrorists’ or ‘communists’ and were subsequently attacked and harassed,” the NUPL Panay Law Students group said.

Last February 28, a possible witness to the victim’s Tumandok 9 case was also killed .

Village chief Julie Catamin of Brgy. Roosevelt, Tapaz, Capiz was shot dead by motorcycle-riding assassin in Brgy. Malitbog, Calinog, Iloilo .

Catarmin went on record belying the Philippine National Police’s allegation that those massacred and arrested by police and military operatives in the December 30, 2020 bloodbath were communist guerillas.

Swift condemnation

Various groups and individuals condemned the attack against Guillen and called for an immediate investigation.

The Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) said Guillen’s attackers are evil.

“It is very clear that those who have motives to silence Atty. Guillen, even to the point of violence, could only be the Duterte regime and its tentacles in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict,” the labor federation said in Filipino.

The NUPL also condemned the slay attempt against its officer.

The group said it has recorded at least 54 killings of lawyers and judges that appear to be related their human rights work.

In December 2020, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, NUPL, and various legal groups raised concerns over the increasing and alarming incidents of attacks on lawyers before the Supreme Court. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Sr. Pat Fox condemns Duterte admin’s year-end rights abuses

The Australian nun deported by the Rodrigo Duterte government condemned the string of assassinations and massacres of indigenous peoples, farmers, and critics during the holiday season.

Sr. Patricia Fox, NDS, deported in April 2018 on allegations she attended a protest rally in Davao City, said the Duterte government rushed to commit more human rights abuses before the year 2020 ended.

Speaking as spokesperson of the Asia-Pacific Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (APCHRP), Sr. Fox said President Duterte took advantage of the Covid-19 lockdowns to orchestrate a crackdown on activists, with many being arrested on dubious charges while several others were killed.

“Two days before the year ended, the Duterte regime’s armed operatives launched simultaneous police and military operations in the islands of Panay and Bohol that resulted in the death of 10 people and the arrest of 17 others,” Sr. Fox said.

The nun cited the massacre of nine Tumandok tribespeople and the arrest of 17 others in Panay Island and the assassination of activist farmer Lorenzo “Dodoy” Paña in Bohol province last December 30.

Sr. Fox echoed reports by local human rights organizations that the simultaneous raids in Tapaz, Capiz province and Calinog, Iloilo province were cold-blooded execution of the victims.

“Family members of Eliseo Gayas, one of the men killed, narrated how they were ordered to go out of their house. When armed operatives entered, they killed Eliseo outright with four gunshots. Two other victims – Mario Aguirre and Roy Giganto – had their houses forcibly entered as operatives shot them dead inside while they were asleep, in the presence of their respective families,” Sr. Fox said.

Paña, like those massacred and arrested in Panay, was a red-tagging victim and no stranger to harassment by State forces, the nun pointed out.

“These senseless murders are a continuation of the string of human rights attacks we have witnessed this year against activists, lawyers, farmers, trade unionists, and even health workers,” Sr. Fox said.

In the same statement, the APCHRP said it strongly condemns the killing of nine Tumandok in Panay Island and the assassination of Dodoy Paña in Bohol.

“We also call for the immediate release of the 17 indigenous activists arrested in the same operation in Panay,” the APCHRP said.

The year 2020 will be forever remembered as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic recessions it caused. However, it should also be noted as the apex of the Duterte regime’s barbarity and utter disregard for human rights, the group added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Gov’t troops massacre 9 Tumandok in Panay

Nine Tumandok indigenous peoples have been massacred by combined police and military operations in Panay Island earlier today, Wednesday, according to reports.

Two days before the year ends, 12th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (12IBPA) troopers and the Philippine National Police in Western Visayas swooped down on Tumandok communities in Calinog in Iloilo and Tapaz in Capiz and killed the victims in a Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operation (SEMPO).

Among those killed in Lahug, Tapaz were Tumandok nga Mangunguma nga Nagapangapin sa Duta kag Kabuhi/Tumandok Farmers in Defense of Land and Life (TUMANDUK) chairperson and Barangay Lahug Councilor Roy Giganto.

Roy Giganto (Panay Today photo)

Giganto, also a former Barangay Lahug chairperson, was killed along with co-councilors Reynaldo Katipunan and Mario Aguirre.

An Eliseo Gayas in Barangay Aglinab, a Mauro Diaz in Barangay Tacayan, and an Artilito Katipunan in Barangay Acuna were also reportedly killed in the same operation.


UPDATE (8:50 PM): The number of massacre victims, previously reported as eight, have risen to nine.

The two other previously unnamed victims of the massacre have been identified as Barangay Daan Sur, Tapaz, Capiz chairperson Dalson Catamin, kapitan and Jomer Vidal of Barangay Nayawan of the same town.

The ninth victim, also a resident from Barangay Daan Sur, has yet to be identified.


Panay Island farmers’ alliance Pamanggas reported that the other victims’ families were ordered outside their homes before the victims were shot.

They were unarmed when killed by the military and the police, Pamanggas said.

Two Barangay Aglinab youths were also taken and remain missing, the reports said.

In Barangay Garangan, Calinog town, Tumandoks Luisito Bautista Jr., Marilyn Chiva, Welsie Chiva, at Glen Legario were arrested by the military.

Alternative news outfit Panay Today said a total of 15 Tumandok have been arrested.

Marevic Aguirre, former TUMANDUK chairperson, also remains missing, it added.

Missing Marevic Aguirre, former TUMANDUK chairperson. (Manila Today photo)

Victims all red-tagged

Some of the victims, such as Giganto and Gayas, were known Tumandok tribal leaders who stood against the Jalaur Mega Dam project in their ancestral domain.

They also refused to sign the consent resolution asked of indigenous peoples before projects are implemented in their ancestral land.

Giganto was earlier reported to have been arrested by the military and the police but later turned up dead.

Blood-spattered house after combined AFP and PNP men massacred 8 Tumandok IPs in Panay Island last December 30, 22020. (Photo from Jeffry Giganto’s FB account)

Gayas was also earlier reported arrested by the SEMPO and tortured until he vomited blood.

Bautista is also a barangay councilor who had been red-tagged and summoned by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) at the 12IBPA camp just last month.

Last December 11, NTF-ELCAC asset Jeffrey Celis accused TUMANDUK as a front organization of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army in the indeginous people’s area in Panay island. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NPA-Panay unit attacked by AFP was conducting Covid info drive, CPP reports

The New People’s Army unit attacked in Iloilo province Wednesday morning, April 8, was conducting a corona virus disease (Covid-19) information drive when attacked by Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) troopers, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) said.

In a statement, the CPP said Jose Percival Estocada Jr. Command guerrillas were distributing flyers about Covid-19 and explaining the disease to the villagers of Sitio Agilan, Barangay Panuran, Lambunao town when fired upon by troopers of the AFP’s 301st Infantry Brigade.

“The NPA and its medical officers were conducting an information drive in the said area,” the group said.

According to the CPP, the NPA in Central Panay reported that they were also discussing problems posed by the “military lockdown” and possible collective production in anticipation of the widespread effect of the health crisis when a Philippine Army unit arrived and fired at them.

 “Forced to defend themselves and the villagers, the NPA fired counter-shots and safely withdrew from the incident,” the CPP said.

In a radio interview in Iloilo City a few hours after the fire fight, 3rd Infantry Division spokesperson Captain Cenon Pancito III said their soldiers were patrolling the area when the encounter happened.

A spot report on the incident says soldiers led by one 2Lt. Roel Duran were conducting “pre-emptive security patrol” when they encountered more or less 20 NPA guerrillas.

The CPP however said the incident is another ceasefire violation, the ninth since President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the government’s unilateral ceasefire declaration last March 19 to enable the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to focus on containing the Covid-19 pandemic.

Heeding the plea of United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and upon the recommendation of National Democratic Front of the Philippines chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison, the CPP issued its own unilateral ceasefire agreement last March 23.

The CPP said that its ceasefire order, to end alongside the government’s on April 15, is its contribution to the nationwide campaign to defeat the dreaded virus.

CPP’s truce order was welcomed by Malacañang Palace as a “positive development.”

The AFP however has launched military operations in Rizal, Quezon, Davao del Norte Bukidnon, Zamboanga Sibugay and Iloilo provinces after the two ceasefire declarations.

The operations have resulted in the death of two NPA guerrillas and two AFP soldiers and the wounding of two others on the government side.

“While [we] strictly cease launching tactical offensives in accordance with the ceasefire declared by the CPP, we are prepared to defend against AFP and PNP attacks,” the NPA in Central Panay said.

 “Our units will continue efforts to help the people against Covid-19, whatever the 301st Brigade does,” the NPA said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Iloilo groups hold People’s SONA

Hundreds of protesters held a People’s SONA last Monday, June 23, in time for President Rodrigo Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address.

The activists called for justice for victims of extrajudicial killings as they demanded a stop to militarization of communities, human rights violations, neo-liberal economic policies, corruption in government as well as other issues.

They also slammed the closure of Boracay Island they say is an arbitrary project that drove thousands of workers from their livelihood. (Photos and slideshow by Marie Irish Inoceto / Friends of Boracay and GabNet)

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