Justice for Benjamin Bayles! Justice for all Victims of Human Rights Violations

Dear Mr President:

Greetings of Peace based on Justice from Bago City, Negros Occidental.
In the outset allow me to qoute the verse: But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! -Amos 5:24 (NIV). This is the passage from the Bible intended to the ruler and king of Judah as to how to judge his constituent.

I am Rt. Rev. Felomino N. Ang, Interim Bishop of the Diocese of Negros Occidental of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente. Today, I want to share with you my feelings over the cold-blooded killing of our brother, Benjamin “Benjie” Bayles. My heart is still so heavy. And my rage is ever growing. I am a man of peace – I am not at ease with this emotion. But please understand I am so disappointed and feel angry because men of our army are turning against us, the people. They are mocking our rights. Having killed so many of the best we have amongst us, they mock God. Those are your men now, Mr. President! Call them back NOW! Please!

The killing of our brother Benjie happened during the last days of the term of the Arroyo administration. Now, your administration is called to solve this Bayles case and bring justice to our nation. It is upon you to end this disgusting spate of terror and impunity. We are tired of all those atrocities. We cannot bear anymore those killings, tortures, displacements and disappearances for the sake of power and greed.

Mr. President, why don’t you hear us – we are crying out loud for justice. For the sake of peace in our country, for the sake of justice, for the sake of our values as a Christian nation – for God’s sake – do not turn your back to us but be human enough and do your part for justice to prevail!

Look at the masses, they are suffering. They are reaching out for nothing less than hope. Do not disappoint them. Mr. President, please do not misunderstand the people – we are not asking favors. We demand from you to live and act to your constitutional duties and obligations!

We do not deserve the ongoing disgraceful travesty of democracy. The military is out to kill wherever we stand for our rights. They have done so more than 1,200 times since 2001. Mr. President, can you recall the feelings you had when you learned about your father’s death? Those are the feelings of the victims’ families. We sympathize with them as we sympathized with you back in August 1983. The victims of extra-judicial killings and your father are the same to us. We are waiting for you to prove that you are a compassionate man. Hear them mourning over the killing of their spouses, sons, daughters, parents!

The accused in the Bayles case introduced themselves as organic members of the Philippine Army and gave their names as (i) Roger Bajon and (ii) Ronnie Caurino. Bajon later claimed to be a fisherman from Purok 4, Barangay Tiling, Municipality of Cauayan, Negros Occidental, while Caurino claimed to be a driver and resident of Barangay Cayhagan proper, Sipalay City, Negros Occidental. The Philippine Army denied that the two are in its ranks or somehow connected to the military.

We now uncovered who the accused really are: the true identity of Roger Bajon is Private 1st Class Reygine Laus, member of 61st IB, PA from Barangay Bunga, Mambusao, Capiz Province. The accused Caurino also is a Private 1st Class, member of 61st IB, PA. Mr President, we are sorry to say but it is clear now: those are your men!
Both Laus (aka Bajon) and Caurino belong to a unit of the Philippine Army that was assigned at Barangay Basak for a period of about three months to maintain peace and order during the 2010 national election.
That is why the local residents are familiar with them and identified them through a picture taken on June 18 during the inquest at the city prosecutor’s office at Himamaylan City. We take the liberty to share with you the same picture just for the foreseen and most likely case that the military administration at Camp Aguinaldo will refuse obedience to your request of forwarding to your desk the military ID pictures of Private 1st Class Laus and Private 1st Class Caurino.

The motorcycle used in the Bayles killing was registered under plate number 7BD718 at the Land Transportation Office under the name of Reygine Laus dated August 9, 2009. It was bought at the DUEK SAM outlet in Sipalay City, Negros Occidental.

Mr. President, it may be difficult to believe but we need to bring to your knowledge what was told to us. Please do your immediate investigation and tell the people that it is not true that:

1. Col. Bayhon, commanding officer of 61st IB, and his S2 (intelligence staff) Lt. Vida approached the manager of DUEK SAM outlet in Sipalay City in order to silence the manager regarding the records of the motorcycle used in the Bayles killing;

2. The Philippine National Police of Himamaylan City is already clinched and influenced by the military as seen in their lousy and mediocre procedures in extracting the truth and unwillingness to investigate the case. Even until now they were not able to visit and investigate in the crime scene.

3. The military bastardized the standard protocols and ethics by exerting dirty tactics so that the final decision of the court will be in favor of their men. The probability that the case will be whitewashed.

Mr. President, whenever an office is held by a person who does not comply with the legal obligations of the office, the question arises whether he or she is unable or unwilling to do so. Regarding some local authorities in Himamaylan City, we have ample information that they are unwilling. Having the constitution and law on your side, we are confident and expect that you will prove of having the actual power, indeed, as well as the necessary determination to enforce the law.

We demand what in civil societies is done in grave instances like this: we demand the immediate suspension of Col. Bayhon, commanding officer of 61st IB, and his S2 (intelligence staff) Lt. Vida, and an investigation under international observation on the above stated accusations.

We demand an immediate suspension of the commanding Himamaylan PNP officer and the investigation of the case under international observation.

Immediately, it needs to be cleared why the 61st IB denied having the accused among their ranks.

Immediately, it needs to be cleared why the police did not follow the leads. With all due respect, it is an evidence of total incapacity if it needs civic society groups to unearth both the background of the accused as well as the illegal case manipulations.

Immediately, it needs to be cleared what particular role Col. Bayhon played in the killing of Benjamin Bayles.

We have hints and do believe that military hit men are out to eliminate key persons in the Bayles case. These are (i) Mr. Caña from Karapatan; (ii) Atty Benjamin T. Ramos, Jr., the legal representative of the Bayles family, (iii) the prime witness of the Bayles killing, as well as (iv) Tito Mejorada, the local National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) organizer and Anakpawis coordinator (v) Mr. Larry Trinidad of Radio Mindanao Network and (vi) Jaime Lim, a Bacolod-based journalist. Mr. President, enough is enough. We would like to keep them with us for a while!

Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous.
Deuteronomy 16: 19 (NIV)

Yours sincerely.

Bishop, Diocese of Negros Occidental
Iglesia Filipina Independiente

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