‘Probe massacre of peasant family in Negros’ – rights group

Groups denounced the massacre of Fausto family in Negros Occidental. (Photo from SAKA Facebook page)


Based on reports gathered by Karapatan, soldiers have been harassing the Fausto couple since last year.


MANILA – Human rights group Karapatan urged the Commission on Human Rights and the concerned congressional committees to immediately conduct an independent investigation into the killing of four members of the Fausto family last June 14 in Sitio Kangkiling, Barangay Buenavista, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental.

Spouses Roly and Emelda Fausto, 55 and 50 years old, respectively, were killed along with their two sons. Ben Fausto was 15 years old while Ravin Fausto was 12 years old.

Karapatan stressed the urgency of conducting an independent investigation given the extent of harassment and intimidation before the massacre and the horrendous manner in which it was done: “Photos show Emelda’s cadaver was just outside their hut’s doorway, while her skull and left leg were evidently shattered. A bloodied body of a boy, with his right leg mutilated, was found in a separate doorway at the back, and another boy’s body was found inside the hut. Roly’s remains were found near the hut.”

Emelda was a member of the Baclayan, Bito, Cabagal Farmers and Farmworkers Association (BABICAFA), an organization of agricultural workers registered with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). It is also accredited by the Himamaylan City Government.

Karapatan said that Roly and Emelda were subjected to continuous harassment from members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in the past months.

In a statement, Karapatan Secretary-General Cristina Palabay said that the “continuing military deployment and operations in communities in Negros have put the island under a de facto martial rule, where State forces have gone on killing sprees, terrorizing peasants and their communities, under the pretext of implementing the Marcos Jr. administration’s counter-insurgency program through Memorandum Order No. 32 (MO 32).”

Read: De facto martial law terrorizes civilians in Negros, Bicol, Eastern Visayas

Palabay added that no one has been investigated, prosecuted and made accountable for heinous crimes such as killings, despite evidence that proves the military’s involvement in such incidents. “This inaction on cases indicate the Marcos Jr. administration’s role in perpetuating these dire violations on human rights and the state of impunity in Negros.”

Harassment prior to massacre

Based on reports gathered by Karapatan, soldiers have been harassing the Fausto couple since last year.

On March 22, 2022 at around 7:00 a.m., Emelda was going home from doing laundry when she heard two gunshots.

She then saw about 12 armed men surrounding their house. Some were in military uniform while the others were in plainclothes. She was interrogated as one of them pointed a knife at her.

They also illegally searched the house, Karapatan said. Clothes were scattered and the Fausto family’s money worth P5,000 ($90) hidden in their clothes went missing. Karapatan added that five chickens were reportedly slaughtered.

Upon arriving at around 10:00 a.m., Roly was also interrogated. He was then forcibly brought to a vacant hut near the house where the interrogation continued.

Karapatan said that Roly’s neck was tied with a belt. His shoulders were kicked twice. He was forced to confess he is a member of the New People’s Army, as well as to identify other NPA members. At around 1:00 p.m., Roly was brought back to his family’s house. “At 7:00 p.m., Roly was taken to the military detachment in Barangay Hilamonan, Kabankalan City where he was interrogated and coerced to admit that he is a member of the NPA. He was physically assaulted and was forced to serve as the soldiers’ guide for their military operations.”

In April and May this year, Emelda reported two other incidents of alleged illegal searches in the family’s house.

On June 14, Karapatan said that residents of the village heard gunshots at around 10:00 p.m. “The residents thought there was an encounter between soldiers and members of the NPA. Early the next morning, sprawled dead bodies of Emelda and her two sons Ben and Ravin Fausto were found in their hut.”

Violating freedom of association

Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) also denounced the massacre of the Fausto family, stressing the dangers of red-tagging and how it violates freedom of association.

UMA cited the massacre of the Sagay 9 on October 2018 and of the Negros 14 as examples of the fatal consequences of red-tagging in Negros. They were among the 349 peasants killed under the Duterte administration.

Read: NPA on the Sagay massacre: RPA, AFP and landlords did it
Read: 14 peasants killed, 12 arrested in a day in Negros Oriental

“Agri-workers [are] worried [that] the Fausto massacre marked the beginning of another spate of killings [in] the island. At least 21 peasants have become victims of extrajudicial killings since Marcos came to power — and it seemed MO 32 was going to play the same murderous role,” UMA said in a statement.

For his part, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas Coordinator Danilo Tabura said that after the creation of Executive Order No. 70 and the enforcement of MO 32, spate of killings ensued in Negros island – “regarded as the ‘hacienda capital’ of the Philippines where peasant struggles for land reform and justice are thoroughgoing.”

Tabura cited the killing of human rights lawyer Ben Ramos and human rights defender Zara Alvarez, as well the Guihulngan 6 massacre in 2017. He said that there are more than a total of 17 regular and special battalions implementing an intensified and focused military operations across Negros.

Meanwhile, Karapatan reiterated its call for the rescinding of MO 32 and for the Marcos Jr administration to halt military operations in Negros and other communities nationwide. (RTS, JJE, DAA) (https://www.bulatlat.org)

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