By KIMBERLIE OLMAYA NGABIT-QUITASOL
Posted by Bulatlat.com
BAGUIO CITY– Another Ilocos Sur peasant was believed to have been abducted and killed by a special commando operations unit of the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, who residents said had been posing as long-haired, armed outlaws.
The body of Nicolas Ramos, 45 , a farmer and a resident of Barangay Poblacion Norte, Salcedo, Ilocos Sur, was discovered in a shallow grave in Barangay Dinaratan, also in Salcedo, on September 9. Ramos had been missing for 47 days.
According to Mila Marcelo, a staff of the Ilocos Human Rights Alliance (IHRA), the remains of Nicolas Ramos was found after barangay officials of Dinaratan went to verify rumors of what appeared to be a burial site in the area.
On July 24 Ramos reportedly went to Barangay Dinaratan to work in the fields of a cousin, but he went missing shortly after that. His whereabouts only became known when his remains, in an advance state of decomposition, were found in a shallow grave.
“The Ramos family verified that he was missing four days after he went to the fields to work when his own son went there to check on him. The family had thought he was still at work in Brgy. Dinaratan. His cousin, for whom he worked, said Nicolas Ramos had gone home around 3:00 PM on July 24,” Marcelo reported.
Marcelo explained that the special commando team of the 5th ID is a platoon-size formation that conducts clandestine operations in the area. She said that according to the residents, the unit assigned in Salcedo has been posing as armed outlaws, with long hair. They were encamped along the Bwaya River in Salcedo, Ilocos Sur, where the murder victim, Nicolas Ramos, frequently passed by. “Ramos is known to also collect and sell wild mushrooms and trade empty bottles to augment his income,” Marcelo said.
Based on the data gathering of IHRC, Marcelo said, they learned that these soldiers wear wigs and were not in uniform when they roam the communities. “We were told that when they bathe in the river they would remove their wigs and all of them actually sport the army crew cut. The locals called this group of soldiers as lampung (long hair),” Marcelo narrated.
Marcelo added that the commando unit seemed to have left after the peasant’s body was found. She surmised that Ramos might have witnessed something that led to his killing.
Also, Marcelo disclosed that residents also blame the same military unit for stealing their crops and domestic animals.