MANILA, Philippines –A human rights watchdog in the Philippines calls public attention to the massacre of four peasants from a Visayan province as it calls for the end to impunity over extra-judicial killings in the country.
The massacre early this month of four Masbate farmers brought to 30 the total number of extra-judicial killings this year, including 13 killed during the 83-day reign of Pres. Benigno C. Aquino III, according to human rights alliance Karapatan.
Karapatan chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez said that the horrors of Martial Law, brought back in by the US-Arroyo regime, are not being dispelled by Pres. Benigno C. Aquino III.
“In fact, the Filipino people may be seeing more of these horrors in the coming days. Instead of scrapping the bloody counter-insurgency Oplan Bantay Laya (Operation Plan Freedom Watch or OBL), which engendered the worst human rights violations under the US-Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime, Aquino and his military officers extended this brutal campaign up to the end of this year and announced a new one to be put in place next year,” bewailed Enriquez.
Hilao-Enriquez, together with her family and hundreds of thousands of others suffered greatly during the martial law years under the deposed dictator , the late Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos.
Among the latest military atrocities is the recent massacre of four farmers in Mobo town in Masbate. Construed as members of the communist New People's Army (NPA), the farmers who went into the forest to hunt, were killed from a military fire assault that mutilated their bodies.
Karapatan's investigation report stated that on September 7, the four farmer-hunters were resting in a village hut when soldiers belonging to the 9th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) attacked from uphill and peppered the sleeping farmers, aged 21, 41, 44, and 45.
An eye-witness account said: Vicente' Flores' genitalia was smashed by the bullets; his abdominal area burst open; his guts spilled to the floor and his hand was almost severed from his arm. One of Melecio Monacillo's shoulders was shattered and he bore gunshot wounds in the leg. Jonathan, Melecio's son, who might have been lying on his stomach, had gunshot wounds on his back and on his jaw that pierced through the top of his skull. The eye-witness found Richard Oliva’s body outside the house with his skull smashed from the bullet wounds and his body riddled with bullets.
Oliva apparently was awakened by the first volley of ginfire and tried to escape but failed.
According to the Karapatan report, the soldiers proceeded to Sta. Maria, ano ther Mobo barangay (village), and ordered village officials to retrieve the bodies of four “New People's Army (NPA) rebels they killed in an encounter in Sitio Irong-irong and instructed them to bring the corpses to the Municipal Hall in Mobo.
Their relatives claimed the remains from the town hall.
As part of their hot pursuit operation when a group of policemen were ambushed by alleged NPA members on 31 May 2010 in Brgy. Marintoc, the day after the ambush, soldiers reportedly tortured and killed Borromeo Cabilis and Julito Etang in Brgy. Baang, also in Mobo.
Since then, the residents of the hinterland barangays of Mobo lived in constant fear, according to Karapatan.
"We challenge Pres. Benigno Simeon "PNoy" Aquino III to render the long overdue indemnification of the victims of martial law, abandon the US-sponsored counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay-Laya and all other counter-insurgency programs, to stop human rights violations and end impunity," said Hilao-Enriquez. # Lyn V. Ramo