A sad Christmas awaits a family of a Negros-based labor organizer who has been missing since Dec. 5. Negros cause-oriented groups say it is the handiwork of the military which the latter strongly denies. A military officer, however, is quick to accuse the missing labor organizer of being a member of the New People’s Army.
BY KARL OMBION
BACOLOD CITY – A labor organizer based here has been missing since Dec. 5. While the military denies any hand in his disappearance, an officer stressed that he is a member of the New People’s Army (NPA).
Perseus Geagoni, 42, was last seen Dec. 5 at around 7:30 p.m. when he borrowed a black Kawasaki motorcycle from his sister in Talisay City, seven kilometers north of this city. He said that he needed to go to the office of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in Bacolod City.
Geagoni is a long-time NFSW organizer and a resident of Zone 4, Talisay City.
The next day, his wife Nieva called his cellular phone which rang but no one answered. She became suspicious and checked with his husband’s colleagues at the NFSW. She was told that he left the NFWS office on the evening of Dec. 5. She then asked her sister, other relatives and friends but no one knew his whereabouts.
Nieva and his husband’s sister Babeth said that a few days before his disappearance, two unidentified persons on a motorcycle kept asking neighbors about his husband’s activities and where he goes. “Somebody must have already been casing him, and they could be people who are not happy with his involvement in the militant organization,” Nieva said.
Last Dec. 12, Geagoni’s family filed a report at the Police Station 6 of Bacolod City and presented the case to the media in a press conference called by the Negros chapter of human rights group Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights).
Fred Cana, national council member of Karapatan, said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) are responsible for Geagoni’s disappearance. “The pattern of political killings and harassments against progressive organizations in Negros during the past months point to the military and the paramilitary RPA-ABB as the perpetrators because of their consistent and rabid anti-left campaigns.”
Cana said eight organizers were already killed this year, seven from NFSW and one from the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines).
Last week, two other NFSW members, Paquito Evangelio and Narciso De La Cruz, residents of Brgy Dolis and Brgy Cabungan-an, Calatrava town, around 130 kilometers north of Negros, were also killed.
Brig. Gen. Joggy Leo Fojas, commanding officer of the 303rd Brigade, denied the allegations that the military was behind the killings. He challenged Karapatan to present evidence. He also accused Geagoni of heading the regional partisan unit of the New People’s Army (NPA).
Geagoni’s family and the NFSW however denied the accusation. Geagoni, they said, is affiliated with NFSW as organizer and member of its regional education committee.
Unsolved rights violation cases
Felipe Gelle, secretary general of the Negros chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan, New Patriotic Alliance), said, “The burden of proof in disproving their role in these political killings is with them, not with us. It’s the military that has been waging sustained witch-hunting and all sorts of bloody psy-war campaigns against militant organizations.”
In fact, Gelle stressed, not a single case of human rights violation has been solved because of the military’s harassment of the families seeking justice.
Last October, seven KMP organizers were arrested by a military composite unit under the 303rd Brigade at a checkpoint in Brgy Camingawan, Kabankalan City. While detained at the Camingawan HQ of the 61st IB, they were denied their right to seek legal counsel and to see their families and relatives.
Had not one of the seven victims sent text messages discreetly to human rights organizations, Gelle said that they would be missing now. (Bulatlat.com)