Police Ask Military To Leave Hacienda Luisitaa

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has joined residents in calling for the military to leave Hacienda Luisita.

By Abner Bolos

The Task Force Ramos of the Philippine National Police (PNP) has called for the withdrawal of soldiers of the Northern Luzon Command from the barangays (villages) in Hacienda Luisita in the wake of the killing of union president Ricardo Ramos.

The report also recommended the filing of criminal charges against Sgt. Roderick “Joshua” Dela Cruz and Sgt. Romeo Castillo Jr. and three other persons identified by witnesses as responsible for the killing of Central Azucarera de Tarlac and Mapalacsiao barangay chair Ricardo Ramos on the night of Oct. 25 in Barangay Mapalacsiao.

The recommendations are contained in an investigation report dated Oct. 26 by Task Force Ramos commander Police Superintendent Sonny T. Cunanan.

“The pull-out of the AFP personnel from Brgy. Mapalacsiao and neighboring barangays is to prevent further animosity between the residents of Hacienda Luisita (and the soldiers and to) ease the tension in said barangays as residents have been clamoring for the pull-out of AFP personnel from the area,” the report said.

Ramos, 47, was meeting with his guests in his hut in Brgy. Mapalacsiao at about 9 p.m. when one of five assassins standing 15 meters away shot him with an M-14 rifle, according to witnesses. Ramos died on the spot. The police ballistics report showed that the two spent M-14 shells found on the crime scene came from the same rifle.

Witnesses told police that Dela Cruz and Castillo, both under the 7th Infantry Division headed by Gen. Jovito Palparan, asked for the victim’s whereabouts in the morning and afternoon of Oct. 25 and in the evening shortly before he was shot.

George Gatus, 48, a barangay tanod (volunteer village security force member) said Castillo and Dela Cruz approached him as he stood guard outside the hut’s makeshift gate that evening and asked to talk to Ramos.

Gatos said that the two soldiers have been inquiring about a list of 10 persons who the military suspects as having links to the New People’s Army (NPA) several days before Ramos was shot. Gatus said that Ramos has maintained that those in the list are legitimate residents in the barangays and that they are being falsely accused.

Glendel De Guzman, 34, one of the witnesses and owner of the house behind the hut where Ramos was shot, told police that the soldiers badgered him into selling his dog until he finally relented about two weeks before Ramos shot and sold the dog for P300. It is in the dark area in front of De Guzman’s house where the assailants probably positioned themselves, according to witnesses.

De Guzman also said that he refused to sell his dog because the dog deters people from entering his yard especially at night. “The motive of the soldiers in buying the dog is to clear the place where they intend to position themselves in executing their plan against Ramos,” the report said.

Complaints against alleged human rights violations and abuses by the soldiers since they were deployed in the hacienda last March have been filed in court. Ramos led a complaint against Col. Gerald Velez last September when Col. Velez allegedly manhandled barangay council member Jose Romero Jr. and two other Mapalacsiao residents.

At least five witnesses testified that Castillo and Dela Cruz are involved in the killing of Ramos.

Ramos was buried last Nov. 2 amidst strong condemnation by his family and supporters against the Cojuangco family and the military who were blamed for the murder. CATLU also issued a statement blaming the Arroyo government and Gen. Jovito Palparan for the spate of killings inside the hacienda. (Bulatlat.com)

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