Rampage in Central Luzon
A bad first quarter
for human rights in the region
A 59-year old widow
was killed, five people were abducted and another two barely escaped
failed abduction attempts in Central Luzon in the first quarter of the
year. The incidents prompted militants to raise an alarm over the
resurgence of ‘death squads’ and call for an end to the government’s Oplan
Bantay Laya II counterinsurgency campaign.
BY ABNER BOLOS
Gitnang Luzon News Service
Posted by Bulatlat
Shara Hizarsa, 10, a
grade five pupil in Ilwas Elementary School in Subic, Zambales waits for
her father everyday to bring her lunch and for them to partake of the meal
together in the school grounds.
Her father Abner, 55,
a former political detainee and a local campaigner of the Anak Pawis party
rides a three-wheeler bike from their house just around the corner to
bring the meal.
On March 22, at about
11:30 a.m., two-armed men accosted Abner as he emerged from the alley
leading to the national highway and brought him to a waiting white L-300
van. Abner has not been seen since that day.
patiently in school that day thinking that her father was only late for
some reason. But her hunger turned into shock and grief when she was
called at the school office and told that her father has been abducted.
Five days later on
March 27, two abductions occurred simultaneously at dawn in Tarlac and
32, was taken at gunpoint by armed men at about 1 a.m. from her
sister-in-law’s house in Barangay Iba, San Jose, Tarlac. Nogoy has just
given birth last January via caesarean operation to twins--both baby
girls. She was recuperating when she was abducted.
Vans and ski
About 15 armed
men on board two vans and wearing ski masks, gloves and black long sleeves
barged into the homes of two of Nogoy’s sisters-in-law. They grabbed Nogoy
at gunpoint and brought her into one of the waiting vans.
On that same
day at around 3 a.m., 15 armed men
wearing ski masks on board a green XLT van and a stainless owner-type jeep
a 63-year old widower and his companion in Barangay San Isidro, Sta. Ana,
Pampanga. The assailants carried
rifles with red laser tracer lights. Adona and his unidentified companion
On March 2 at around
7:30 a.m., Felisa Ocampo, a 59-year old widow and a Bayan Muna (People
First) party coordinator was shot in the head as she was walking in front
of her sister’s store in Barangay Poblacion, Morong, Bataan.
As she fell to the
ground, the gunmen made sure she was dead and threatened those who rushed
to the scene not to make any move. The gunmen rode away in a car with two
others waiting inside and two in a motorcycle.
On February 6, Samuel
Clemente, 56, a former political detainee, was taken by armed men who
identified themselves as police inside a private subdivision in Barangay
San Roque, Tarlac City. The assailants drove away in a green L-300 van
taking Clemente’s motorcycle with them. The victim remains missing.
Dory Mendoza, deputy secretary-general
of the militant Bayan-Bulacan, barely escaped soldiers from the Philippine
Army’s 56th Infantry Battalion in Barangay San Rafael IV, San Jose Del
Monte City, Bulacan.
A truckload of soldiers arrived in the
evening of March 13 and started searching for her in the area as well as
in the adjoining barangay of Kaypian, including Towerville, Palmera,
Pabahay and other subdivisions after she gave a lecture on voters’
education to residents. Mendoza eluded her assailants with the help of
residents who hid her from the soldiers.
At about 10 p.m. on
February 26, four Armalite-wielding men wearing ski masks forcibly entered
the home of Eduardo Macapagal, 54, a fishpond owner, in Barangay Bulaus,
Masantol, Pampanga and tried to take him away.
relented when Macapagal’s family literally held on to him and refused to
let him go. The vehicle the abductors used was a barangay service vehicle
borrowed by the soldiers from an adjacent village.
These cases were
culled from records of Karapatan-Central Luzon and from interviews with
families of the victims. Six of the incidents occurred in March while two
transpired in February. They happened in five of Central Luzon’s seven
provinces namely, Zambales, Tarlac, Pampanga, Bataan and Bulacan.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Gitnang Luson (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance)
chairperson said in a statement that the incidents “signal the renewed
attacks of military death squads on activists and ordinary civilians.”
Luzon has documented at least 144 cases of extra-judicial executions and
48 cases of abductions or enforced disappearances in the region from 2001
when President Arroyo took power up to 2006. Central Luzon is one of the
regions that registered the highest number of human rights violations that
has wracked the country during the term of President Arroyo.
All of the victims in
the recent cases are leaders, supporters or sympathizers of militant party
list groups Bayan Muna and Anak Pawis (Toiling Masses). They are also
being suspected by the military to have links with the New People’s Army.
The incidents also occurred in areas where the military is undergoing
operations against the NPA.
apprehensive that this systematic violence would again escalate as the
election draws near. It is very evident that this is intended to strike
fear on the electorate to prevent them from voting for our party-lists,”
Bayan-CL have also denounced the incidents saying they were committed “in
pursuit of the government’s Oplan Bantay Laya II” (OBL II).
OBL II is the
government’s counterinsurgency program aimed at defeating the communist
insurgency by the end of President Arroyo’s term in 2010.
A document from
the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) which was recently leaked to
media showed that attacking militant party list groups is part of the
government’s drive to crush the NPA.
entitled “SPECIAL SOT PROJECT:
COUNTER PARTY-LIST AT THE BARANGAY COUNCIL (12 MONTHS IMPLEMENTATION)”
lists several measures aimed at “neutralizing” the “communist threat”
including “special operations-Palparan model.”
government deserves the strongest condemnation for causing the deaths and
disappearances of a growing number of civilians in the region in the
course of its counterinsurgency plan. (The government) must scrap OBL and
focus on the needs of the people,” Roman said.
hierarchy have repeatedly denied having a hand in the extra-judicial
killings and disappearances and that it is attacking unarmed militant
groups.Gitnang Luzon News Service/posted by Bulatlat
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