A Human Rights Day photo exhibit in Bicol couldn’t help but be gruesome.
By Lino D. Interino III
Legaspi City – A Human Rights Day photo exhibit in Bicol couldn’t help but be gruesome as it shows victims of human rights violations, in pictures.
Dubbed as “Faces of Fascism”, the photo exhibit was held on December 13 at the Bicol University Graduate School Building by the Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (Karapatan-Bicol) in coordination with the Bicol University Student Council (USC).
Human rights abuses allegedly committed by military men and members of Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) were exposed in pictures and stories. The display also included the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the people’s rights as stated in the Philippine Constitution.
There were mixed reactions from students who viewed the display. Some felt pity; others felt angry at the torturers and the perpetrators of killings. Some only passed by with raised eyebrows. Still, others, especially some faculty members, did not pay any attention to the exhibit.
Eric Dorente, public information officer of Karapatan-Bicol, said the human rights situation is not being given attention. He said the purpose of the exhibit is to show to students and the public the rampant human rights violations in the region.
A total of 71 activists in the region have been killed from January 2001 to November this year. The most number of abuses were in Albay, with 25 cases recorded. Twenty of the victims were killed this year.
Research by Bulatlat showed there are 28 political detainees in Bicol as of Nov. 30
The Karapatan photos showed victims of recent killings, as well as of previous years.
Bayan Muna (people first) party-list member Ricardo Uy, 49, was killed on Nov. 18 at about 11 a.m. inside his own rice mill in Barangay (village) Basud, Sorsogon City. Ding, as he is fondly called, is the 67th Bayan Muna member to be killed since the party-list won a seat in Congress. He is also the 70th murder victim in Bicol since Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo became president.
Two Saturdays before Ding’s death, a radio program run by the Philippine Army in dzMS Sorsogon City, “Ugnayan sa Kapayapaan” (linking for peace), maliciously tagged him as an “emerging leader” of the New People’s Army (NPA).
The most dreadful story was that of the Golloso children. Based on reports, Melody Golloso, 18, and sister Mylene, 13, were inside their house on May 7, 2004 in Barangay Recto, Bulan, Sorsogon, cooking merienda (afternoon snacks). Her other siblings Raymund, 6, a special child, together with Resty, 9, were playing in the frontyard.
At around 2:30 p.m., they suddenly heard gunshots. Melody and Mylene called in their brothers, and they all went inside their parents’ room. The shooting stopped. Mylene and Raymund sat on the bed, as Melody and Resty peeked through the front door. The two didn’t see anyone outside. Then, two shots were again fired.
Based on Karapatan reports, Melody checked the bedroom and saw Raymund’s head bleeding and Mylene’s left face hit, but still alive and calling for their mother. Melody and Resty left their wounded siblings and ran away from the house. As they left, they reportedly heard someone said: “Pasukin natin ang bahay, baka may buhay pa! (let’s go inside the house, there may be a survivor).” Then they heard more gunshots.
Meanwhile, some 200 meters away from the Golloso’s residence, their mother Adelina saw elements of the military and members of the CAFGU at the barangay hall and barangay captain’s house. When she heard the first gunshot in the direction of her house, she quickly ran home, thinking of her kids.
When she got home, she saw seven uniformed members of the Philippine Army, three of them hidden behind the trees. The army tried to prevent her from approaching the house, but she ignored them and called for her kids.
When she entered the house, she saw Raymund, his head lying on Mylene’s stomach, both bathed in blood. The dying Raymund still managed to open his eyes, and seeing Adelina, said “Ma…”. She went outside and saw the military men still in the yard.
“Hoy! Mamamatay na ang dalawang anak ko! Anong kasalanan ng mga anak ko! Wala silang mga kasalananan! Humihinga pa ang isa kong anak! (Hey! My two children are dying! What is the fault of my children! They have no fault! My child is still breathing!),” she screamed on the top of her lungs, begging for help for her kids. But the soldiers did nothing.
“They said it was the NPA that did this to my kids,” Adelina said in an interview. But they (military) did not do anything to help her save her children.
The armed men belonged to the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the 902nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army. Adelina later found out that after the incident, the military went to the barangay captain and asked for a certification that would state that an encounter between the NPA and the army occurred, that the initial fire came from the NPA, and that it was the NPA that killed Mylene and Raymund.
But Adelina countered: “Walang NPA sa aming bahay. Kung may palitan ng putok, tiyak may mga tama ang aking bahay. Sa nakita ko, dadalawa lamang ang tama sa dingding, maliban sa tig-isang tama ng dalawang bata. At wala kaming nakuhang empty shells sa palibot ng kabahayan.(There was no NPA in our house. If there was an exchange of gunfire, surely there would be marks on my house. From what I saw, there were only two gunshot holes in the wall, aside from the two shots that hit my kids. And we found no empty shells in the yard).
In Barangay Tubuan, Caramoan town, Camarines Sur, Roger Alperez Soriano, 20, was reportedly abducted by soldiers of the 42nd Infantry Batallion on April 10, 2004. Three days later, his body was found buried in lotus position in a two feet deep pit in a hilltop.
Meanwhile, on Feb. 9, 2003, Henry Madrid, 31, was asleep with his 10-month old baby when suspected soldiers and CAFGU men allegedly came to his house in Barangay Gumapia, Irosin town, Sorsogon. The baby he was holding survived, found bathed in his father’s blood.
According to Henry’s wife Annabelle, soldiers came to their house on Jan. 24, supposedly looking for a barangay kagawad who was renting house.
A student said, “Nakakaawa sila kasi karamihan sa kanila mga inosente lalo na ‘yung magkapatid na Golloso (I felt sorry for them because many of them are innocent especially the Golloso siblings.)” (Bulatlat.com)