Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Volume 3,  Number 10               April 6 - 12, 2003            Quezon City, Philippines


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New Gov’t Offensives Leave Trail of Human Rights Cases

New cases of summary execution, massacre, torture and harassment have sown a climate of terror in many provinces. Unfortunately, the same reports said, relatives of the victims and other residents are troubled over whom to ask for help due to the alleged involvement of the military, police and paramilitary men in these incidents.

By Bulatlat.com

Even villagers paying respects to the dead are also alarmed. A Karapatan-Southern Tagalog report said a group of residents and visitors were attending the wake of Florencio “Ka Lerry” de Castro in Barangay Tagbakin, Tiaong, Quezon on March 25 when two teams of the 5th Special Forces with 26 local policemen – all in full battle gear – came and surrounded the house where the wake was being held. The soldiers said they were looking for New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas in the area.

Ka Lerry was an alleged NPA cadre who died in an encounter with soldiers of the 1st Infantry Battalion last March 20 at Brgy. Gagalot, Majayjay, Laguna.

The following day, a quick reaction team (QRT) formed by Karapatan-Laguna and Karapatan-ST went to the scene of encounter to conduct an investigation. Members of the QRT said they were threatened by soldiers and police under a Colonel Isles from taking pictures and videos while they were trying to recover the body of the fallen alleged NPA guerrilla. They were also searched by sniffing police dogs, they also said, while the funeral parlor where the corpse was brought was tightly guarded.

Summary execution in Bulacan

Meanwhile, at about 9 p.m. March 12, the usual peaceful night in Barangay Pulong Bayabas, San Rafael, Bulacan was shattered when five men in civilian clothes, some wearing bonnets, came and surrounded the house of couple Regina and Michael Santiago. The intruders dragged Michael, 28, out of the house while a gun was poked at Regina.

Pleas of  help by Anita, Michael’s mother, sent barangay captain Ricardo Bernabe running to the nearby police station and the 175th Infantry Battalion (IB), both in San Rafael, to report the incident.

Told by the police that an encounter took place the following day in Pasong Intsik, Michael’s family went to check and found themselves going to Funeraria Mendoza in Bustos. They were shocked to find Michael’s body in the funeral and his clothes burned.

A TV report, citing military claims, said Michael died in an “encounter” and when found was holding a gun and wore an “NPA uniform” printed with “Bagong Hukbong Bayan” – a shirt different from the one he was wearing during the reported abduction.

Bulacan Police Director P/Senior Supt. Felizardo M. Serapio, Jr. said the military was responsible for Michael’s death during an encounter.

Killings in Mindoro Oriental

Before midnight of March 22 in Sitio Pagturian, Brgy. Villaflor, Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental, Francisco Rabano and his wife Julita went out of their house to check voices they were hearing. Once outside, someone grabbed Francisco’s flashlight while another blew out the light of the lamp.

The unidentified men barked orders to the couple to surrender their guns, but the latter insisted they had none. Francisco was taken away from Julita while the latter was ordered to sprawl under a table. She saw two armed men ransack their house.

The commotion awakened the couple’s 9-year-old adopted son, Gerry Camagon. Frightened, Gerry scampered downstairs.

The house was then set on fire by the men, destroying all the couple’s appliances and some P25,000 savings. Julita and her son managed to escape while the house was burning. But three gunshots rang out from inside the house.

At 3 p.m. the following day, the burnt bodies of Francisco and his younger brother, Mariano, in tight embrace were found in the wreckage. Miguela, their mother, recalled that Mariano just left their house to ask for food from their neighbors.

Francisco had five gunshot wounds in the body and another in the head while Mariano had three gunshot wounds in the back and another in the head.

Meanwhile, cases of disappearances have also been reported by Karapatan-ST. Fisherman Teodoro Manongsong, 30, went missing since March 14. Manongsong’s sister, Janette Capasio, reported the incident to the 204th brigade headquarters in Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental but was told by Gen. Jovito Palparan that her brother was in “good health.”

Barangay councilor Luis Aspecto also went missing after Palparan reportedly placed him under tactical interrogation on March 19.

The whereabouts of Manongsong and Aspecto, both tagged by the military as NPA suspects, are still undetermined at presstime.

Violence against religious leaders

In Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur, relatives of a slain church leader sought the help of Karapatan in connection with their complaint that no investigation was being made by police authorities on the killing.

The church leader, Silvestro “Elvis” Ading, was shot dead inside the kitchen of his house in Sta. Cruz 6:30 p.m. last March 7.

Ading was the chairperson of the community organizations Nagkahiusang Magtutuo/Mag-uuma sa Lubo and Lumad Kasakit ug Kalipay of the Bagobo tribe.

Ading was also suspected as an NPA member by the the military and the local Citizens Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU).

Karapatan said that Ading was shot twice at close range in the lower right cheek –probably the work of a professional marksman.

Attacks on Moros

March 20 marked the most unforgettable day for 28-year old Antajul Ayyadi, a sole survivor of a massacre in Brgy. Lampaki, Indanan, Sulu.

Ayyadi and his uncle Radjail Mukammali, 68, were tending their cattle 4 p.m. that day, not far from the group of Almajar Jainul, 21, Jul Sahibul, 17, and Bennasir Muammil, 13, were attending at their own cattle, when a group of armed men in black uniforms shouted at them. The herders suspected the men to be military personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Scout Rangers (AFP-SRs).

Upon reaching the armed men’s place, suspected as members of the bandit group Abu Sayyaf, they were ordered to take off their clothes which were used to blindfold them and tie their hands at their back.

After hitting them with high-powered rifles, the soldiers filled their mouth with grass when they kept on denying their allegations.

Indiscriminate beating resulted in the death of Mukammali while leaving Ayyadi badly injured. Ayyadi “played dead” for almost 20 minutes and managed to survive after the soldiers left.

At 7 a.m. the following day, residents found three bodies belonging to Sainul, Sahibul, and Muammil, all with deep wounds in the neck. Mukammil’s body was also retrieved after two hours with the same wound.

Military authorities said the victims were killed by the ASG. Ayyadi insisted however that the scout rangers used the victims’ “bolos” to execute them. Bulatlat.com

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