By RONALYN OLEA
MANILA — In March 2007, peasant leader Rene Quirante was imprisoned when criminal charges were filed against him by the military. Eventually, the case was dismissed. But on Oct. 1, around 2:00 a.m., soldiers of the 11th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army silenced him forever.
Quirante, 48, chairman of Kapunungan Alang sa Ugma sa mga Mag-uuma sa Oriental Negros (Kaugmaon), an affiliate of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Philippine Peasant Movement) was shot at close range twice in the head and in the chest by soldiers. He is survived by his wife and five children.
On Sept. 30, Quirante and his companion Romeo Gador went to sitio (subvillage) Amomoyong, barangay (village) Trinidad, Guihulngan to meet with other Kaugmaon members. The meeting lasted until late in the afternoon and the two decided to spend the night in the house of Neneng Nilles, a relative of Gador.
At around 2:00 a.m., a man was calling from the outside telling them to open the door; he introduced himself as a member of the New People’s Army (NPA). No one from inside the house acknowledged the call then the man forcibly opened the door lock.
Around 30 soldiers in uniform surrounded the house. The soldiers went straight to Quirante and started beating him up with the butt of their rifles. They were forcing him to admit that he was a member of the NPA. Gador and Nilles tried to help Quirante but they too were assaulted by the soldiers.
The soldiers dragged Quirante to the veranda. They dragged him down on the ground and shot him twice in the head and once in the chest at close range. They immediately left the area after the shooting. Gador heard one of the soldiers shout, “Tinlo na!” (It’s clear!).
Nilles’s nine children, the youngest of whom is aged two, saw everything that happened.
Quirante was very vocal against the military’s setting up of a detachment and Barangay Defense System (BDS) in the interior villages of Guihulngan, Negros Oriental and against human rights violations. He was publicly labeled as a member of the NPA by the military over their radio program. (Bulatlat.com)