Sorsogon media slams PNP for ‘comical’ allegations on broadcaster’s death

Journalists in Sorsogon expressed dismay and disbelief over police claims it was the New People’s Army (NPA) that killed a former radio reporter on September 14 last year.

In a statement, the Sorsogon media condemned allegations made by Sorsogon City police chief Lt. Col. Benito Dipad and Sorsogon provincial police head Col. Arturo Brual that two NPA members killed broadcaster Jobert Bercasio.

The journalists said the police press conference last January 21 failed to merit praises and jubilation from the victim’s family and friends as it lacked credibility and plausibility and was even comical.

“That the police relied on a ‘walk-in’ witness who was not even sure of his role in the conspiracy should be a cause for concern on the credibility of the case,” the statement said.

The journalists expressed further incredulity when Dipad said the victim may have been suspected by the NPA as a government informer.

“Obviously, the police have failed, again, to check, despite its constant stalking, that as early as September 20 of last year, the regional spokesperson of the National Democratic Front-Bicol, Maria Roja Banua, had already made a statement that refutes such theory,” the journalists said.

The reporters revealed that the NPA had been a convenient escape for the PNP to attribute crimes to the NPA whenever they fail to solve them.

“[W]hen police attribute(s) a crime to the NPAs, it’s tantamount to saying they could not solve the case. It’s a subtle admission of utter failure,” they added.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said it shares the dismay and incredulity of its Sorsogon colleagues.

“We commend our Sorsogon colleagues and are one with them in insisting that the investigation into Jobert Bercasio’s murder be credible because what he deserves – as do all of our fallen colleagues – is justice, not made into a pawn for anyone’s agenda or the subject of cheap propaganda,” the NUJP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDF Bicol vows justice for 2 slain rights workers

The National Democratic Front (NDF) in the Bicol Region vowed justice for the two human rights workers killed in Sorsogon Province Saturday morning.

“We assure the families of (Nelly) Bagasala, (Ryan) Hubilla and all other victims of violence of the reactionary State of the revolutionary movement’s nonstop efforts until justice is given them,” Nel del Mundo, Bicol NDF spokesperson, said in Filipino.

Bagasala and Hubilla were killed by two gunmen on a motorcycle at Phase 2, Seabreeze Homes, Brgy. Cabid-an, Sorsogon City at eight o’clock in the morning of Saturday April 15 while alighting from a tricycle.

Alternative media outfits Baretang Bikolnon and Bicol Today said Hubilla was paying for their fare while Bagasala was still inside the sidecar when gunned down.

Their companion Isabel (not her real name) and the tricycle driver escaped.

Bagasala was a member of Sorsogon Peoples’ Organization (SPO), a member organization of the Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights.

Hubilla, on the other hand was a Karapatan Sorsogon staff member and a member of the League of Filipino Students. He was a Grade 12 student.

Baretang Bikolnon reported that the three human rights workers reported being tailed by suspected military or police personnel when they were assisting “high profile” political prisoners being released Friday.

Hubilla took videos of two unidentified men on motorcycle who were tailing them and peeking inside their van, the report said.

Screengrab from victim Hubilla’s video of the two suspects tailing them Friday. (Baretang Bikolnon image)

The report added that the van driver who drove the victims during the release was threatened with a gun by unidentified men at around 9:30 Friday evening at Sorsogon City’s van terminal.

The victims were on their way to look for the van driver, reportedly a resident of Seabreeze Homes, to ask him about the incident when gunned down.

Karapatan national secretary general Cristina Palabay revealed in a Facebook post that Hubilla was in fact being mulled to act as witness for the organization’s petitions for relief with the higher courts last April.

“We were mulling to have him as a witness in our Court of Appeals hearings on the petition of writ of amparo and habeas data because of a recent incident of harassment and surveillance of suspected state agents involving Ryan and three other Karapatan human rights workers in Sorsogon last April when they were assisting political prisoners,” Palabay wrote.

Palabay said that the victims were most diligent in assisting the detainees and ensuring that their needs in jail are being addressed.

“Just yesterday, they provided assistance for three political prisoners who have been released. But now, Ryan won’t be able to testify, he will not be able to execute his affidavit. He is dead,” Palabay added.

The Filipino people are revolted with the unceasing crimes and brutal killings under the United States-Rodrigo Duterte regime. These violence and exploitation only drive the people to resist and join the armed struggle,” del Mundo said.

Other groups condemned the killing of the human rights workers, blaming the government’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapanatagan, as well as Duterte’s Memorandum Order 32 and Executive Order 70 for the “de facto martial law” in the entire country.

“Why is it that those helping the masses are the ones being killed?” Guillermo Abraham, Karapatan – Sorsogon spokesperson asked. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Sorsogonons vow July 28 ‘encounter’ was a massacre

SORSOGON- Activists and human rights workers say the killing of two New People’s Army (NPA) members and two civilians last July 28 in Casiguran town was a “massacre” and not an “encounter” as the raiding government forces claimed.

At a rally in this town Saturday, the protesters said NPA members Andres “Ka Magno/Ka Carlo” Hubilla and Miguel “Ka Billy” Himor as well as civilians Arnel Borres and Dick Laura were massacred as there was no evidence the victims put up a fight.
The Communist Party of the Philippines said Hubilla was its Sorsogon Party Committee secretary and head of the NPA’s Celso Minguez Command operating in this province.

The protesters said no encounter happened, much less a 30-minute fire fight as claimed by a Philippine National Police-Sorsogon statement after the incident.

Activists and human rights workers say the killing of two New People’s Army (NPA) members and two civilians last July 28 in Casiguran town was a “massacre” and not an “encounter” as the raiding government forces claimed.

A fact-finding mission led by Karapatan Bicol last July 31 that said Hubilla was walking along a dirt road 50 meters away from the house where the three others were found dead.

Karapatan-Bicol said the incident was obviously planned by the government forces.

According to residents of Sitio Namoro, Purok 2, Trece Marteres, Casiguran, they noticed check points by men in full battle-gear uniforms hours before the incident.

Gunfire only lasted about five-minutes, the mission said.

Tim Hubilla, brother of Andres, who accompanied police crime investigators immediately after the incident, also told alternative media outfit Baretang Bikolnon Online his brother was found beside a fish pond with a rusty small calibre pistol on his right hand.

“It did not even have a magazine. One thing I also noticed was that the gun he was holding was in his right hand when, in fact, my brother was left-handed,” he told Baretang Bikolnon Online.

Alex Castidades, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Sorsogon spokesperson said the incident was a clear violation of International Humanitarian Law as the victims were clearly surrounded and did not put up a fight.

“They could have just ordered the victims to surrender and arrested them,” Castidades told fellow protesters.

Castidades also condemned the killing of civilians Borres and Laura who were just having coffee in the house where they were killed. # (Raymund B. Villanueva/Altermidya)