After being forced by the military to sign a statement saying that an encounter between government troops and communist guerillas led to the killing of two minors last May in Sorsogon, village head Eduardo Adamos finally tells what happened on that fateful day: “Natakot lang ako kaya ako pumirma dun sa certification” (I signed the certification out of fear), he said.
By Dabet Castañeda
After being forced by the military to sign a statement saying that an encounter between government troops and communist guerillas resulted in the killing of two minors last May in Sorsogon, barangay (village) captain Eduardo Adamos finally revealed what happened on that fateful day: “Natakot lang ako kaya ako pumirma dun sa certification” (I signed the certification because I was afraid), he said.
Overcoming his fear of what he thinks the military may do to him, Adamos, of Barangay Recto, Bulan town, Sorsogon province (a 10-hour trip away from Manila), accompanied on June 8 the Gollosos, the family of two children killed in a massacre, in filing a case at the office of the Joint Secretariat (JS) of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) of the government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Adamos recounted that around 2 p.m. on May 7 soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army under Lt. Col. Romeo Cabatic came to their village. The 2nd IBPA has its headquarters at Laboy in the town of Matnog.
The barangay leader identified a certain Cesar Loares, a member of the Citizen’s Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu), as one of the alleged assailants, together with eight soldiers from the 2nd IBPA. Adamos said the army unit came to his house “for the usual courtesy call” and added it was the army’s regular military operation.
The soldiers then went to the direction of the Golloso’s house, which was about two kilometers away from the village proper.
After about 10 minutes, Adamos said, he heard gunshots. When he was about to proceed to the town proper to tell their mayor, Guillermo de Castro, the soldiers arrived at his house and asked for a certificate.
Mila Sorio, a village councilor who also accompanied the Golloso family at the JS office, said she was the one who made the certificate that the military forced the barangay captain to sign. “Dinikta nila sa akin yung isusulat ko” (They dictated what to write), she said.
As Sorio recalled, she wrote in the certificate that an encounter between the soldiers and the NPA occurred on May 7 at around 1 p.m. She was made to write that the soldiers arrived at their barangay, that at 3 p.m. they went on an operation, that after a few minutes there was a shoot out, and that after 30 minutes the soldiers went back to the village proper. The soldiers reportedly added that it was NPA guerrillas who shot the two Golloso children.
But Adamos said he did not believe that there was an encounter between government troops and the NPA. “Yung mga sundalo lang ang nakita kong armado sa lugar namin nung araw na yon. Wala namang mga NPA” (The only armed persons in our area then were the soldiers.There were no NPAs) he said. “Pero sa takot ko, pinirmahan ko yung certification” (But out of fear, I signed the certification) he added.
Meanwhile, members of the Golloso family are still in a daze.
“Hindi ko pa rin matanggap na wala na ang mga anak ko” (I could not believe my children are gone), said Ricardo Golloso, 54, father of the two minors killed allegedly by the soldiers.
He, together with his wife Adelia, 47, and his two children Melody, 18, and Resty, 9, came all the way from Bulan, Sorsogon to file the case at the GRP-Monitoring Committee against soldiers from the 2nd IBPA whom they alleged as the killers of Maylene, 13, and Raymund, 6.
Aside from the village officials, the Gollosos were accompanied by human rights workers from the regional chapter of Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) in Bicol.
Opened last June 4, the office of the JMC is at the Multi-Purpose Center just in front of the Immaculate Concepcion Church on Lantana St., Cubao, Quezon City. Seventy-eight cases of human rights violations have been filed at the GRP-MC. None so far has been filed at the NDFP-MC.
The JMC was operationalized by both the GRP and NDFP to monitor violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), an agreement that took effect on August 7, 1998.
This agreement seeks to humanize the conduct of the civil war in the country.
In an exclusive interview with Bulatlat.com last June 8, Adelia said she left her four children at home at about 2:35 p.m. that day and went to the village proper.
Arriving at the village proper, she saw soldiers at Adamos’ house. She then saw them head to the direction of their house. Ten minutes later, she heard gunshots that she thought came from her house. Heading back home as fast as she could, she saw the soldiers around her house, some crawling on the ground and some crouched behind coconut trees.
She ran inside their house and found her two children bathed in their own blood.
“Yung mga sundalo ang nakita ko dun sa bahay ko kaya alam ko sila ang pumatay sa mga anak ko” (I saw the soldiers so I know they were the ones who killed my children), she said.
Girlie Padilla, acting secretary general of the church-based human rights group Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace (EMJP), said the children have become actual targets of military operations. “They have ceased to being incidental victims,” she said.
The human rights leader added that the case of the Golloso kids is not just a violation of human rights and international humanitarian law but is a criminal case against the alleged military assailants.
Denial of medical attention
Part of the provision of the CARHRIHL states that “the wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for by the party to the conflict which has them in power. Protection also covers medical personnel, establishments, transports and equipment (Article 2, No. 3).”
However, this provision was not followed in the case of Adelia’s son. According to Adelia, Raymond, a special child whom everyone called Bunonoy, was still alive when she got inside the house.
For about 10 minutes, she pleaded to the soldiers for help her but they just walked away. “Humihinga pa yung anak ko pero tiningnan lang kami nung mga sundalo. Hindi nila kami tinulungan” (My son was still breathing but the soldiers just looked at us. They did not help us), she said.
The Gollosos work as coconut farmers in a two-hectare lot owned by a certain Rosario Nuñez. As their income from the farm is not sufficient for their daily needs, the couple plant cassava and banana and sell these to their neighbors.
After the death of Maylene and Raymund, the family relocated at a relative’s house in the town proper.
“Hindi na namin kayang makita ang bahay kung saan namatay ang aking mga anak (We cannot go on living inside that house where my children got killed), Adelia said.
Both Ricardo and Adelia lost their jobs as coconut farm workers since their migration. Their only means of survival at the moment is the dole out from friends and relatives who went to their children’s funeral.
“Pag naubos yung abuloy, hindi ko na alam kung saan kami kukuha” (If all donations have been spent, I just wouldn’t know how we’ll survive), Adelia said.
Meanwhile, Ricardo asked the help of incoming mayor Helen Rose de Castro but the public official could not give him a job until she officially sits in office on July 1.
Melody, who just graduated from secondary school, has also decided to stop schooling. “Naguguluhan pa ako sa nangyari (I’m still disturbed by what had happened), she said.
Padilla said the effect of a disastrous military operation usually includes relocation, as in the case of the Gollosos, or mass evacuation when the whole community or several communities have become victims of military abuses.