This story was taken from Bulatlat, the Philippines's alternative weekly newsmagazine (,,
Vol. VI, No. 18, June 11-17, 2006




Soldiers on Killing Rampage in Nueva Ecija

Walking home from church, Pastor Andy Pawican was carrying his months-old child when accosted by soldiers. Still holding his child, Andy went with them. Gunshots were later heard, after which the soldiers took the child to Andy’s wife. In a later meeting with the villagers, the soldiers admitted that they killed Andy whom they accused of being a rebel. They warned the people that the same fate would befall them if they do not cooperate with the soldiers.


Soldiers in some parts of Nueva Ecija make their presence felt in a way that does not endear them to residents of the area.

Andy Pawican, 30, dedicated his life to spreading the word of God. He was a licentiate pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) in Fatima village, located in the mountainous town of Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija province (around 180 kms. from Metro Manila).

Last May 21 at around 11 a.m., he was walking home from church with his family and another church member when four armed men accosted him.

Introducing themselves as New People’s Army (NPA) members, they said they were looking for William Tuping, Andy’s village mate who lives near the UCCP chapel in Sitio (sub-village) Maluyon. They then ordered Andy’s companions to go ahead. Andy’s wife did not protest, thinking that he would not be harmed since he was holding a baby.

At around 3 p.m., the villagers heard successive gunshots. The four men turned out to be soldiers and were seen with members of the 48th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IB-PA) conducting a military operation in Fatima. 

The soldiers brought the baby back to his wife but Andy was not seen alive again. At around 5 p.m., a villager found his body on the roadside, with a gunshot wound in the right cheek.

The soldiers initially claimed that Andy, a native of Ifugao, was a member of the NPA who got killed in an encounter. They even paraded the body in the village. In a later meeting with the villagers, the soldiers admitted that they killed Andy. They warned the people that the same fate would befall them if they do not cooperate with the soldiers.

Andy’s remains were not brought to a funeral house until the next day (May 22). The soldiers ordered 10 villagers to carry the body to the road. Only eight of the 10 men returned to the village. Peasants Rogel Marcial and Miguel Paltin, both in their 30s, were ordered by the soldiers to board a motorcycle driven by another soldier going to the military camp. The two have been missing since.

In a press release, the Promotion for Church People’s Response (PCPR) said that the military targeted Andy because he chose to work in service of the people in a remote village. In 2005, when military operations conducting hamletting operations in several villages in Pantabangan, Andy managed to get through with the relief goods for the people who had been prevented from leaving their area.


The man wanted by the soldiers, William Tuping, 42, was on his way to the town market to deliver bananas when he heard the gunshots that killed Andy on May 21.  He decided to stay at the town proper, fearing the presence of the military in his village. 

When he went back to his house on May 24, he found his house ransacked, his family’s belongings gone, his family’s retail store emptied. 

Kinuha nila lahat ng gamit, kaldero, mga sapatos, mahuhusay na pantalon, magagandang kumot, pati mga kulambo,” (They took all our things, our pots, shoes, our best pairs of pants and bed sheets, even the mosquito nets.) Tuping said in an interview with Bulatlat.  “Mas maganda pa kung nasunugan ako, baka mayroon pa akong nailabas.” (It would have been better had a fire struck, perhaps I would have saved something.)

Tuping said his store contained goods such as rice, bread, coffee, canned goods, cigarettes and other items worth some P10,000 ($188.08, based on an exchange rate of P53.17 per US dollar). The villagers told him the soldiers brought the goods to the village and distributed these to the people. The soldiers reportedly threatened the villagers who would not accept the stolen goods would be marked as rebel sympathizers.

The soldiers also cooked and ate Tuping’s two dogs and several chickens, whose bones he found littered in his kitchen. The soldiers did leave behind some pots, which Tuping found to be filled with urine.  “Trabaho ba naman iyan ng matinong tao?” (Is that something a sane person would do?) he said. 

A pastor of the Pentecostal Church told Tuping that one of the soldiers identified only as Lubosta told him to bring Tuping to the soldiers’ camp. If he does not, he would suffer the same fate.

Given these circumstances, some families who have relatives in other towns have left the village, fearing the worst from the 48th IB PA.

Death threats

After Andy’s killing, soldiers of the 48th IB PA under Lt. Elmer Taglinawan threatened two other UCCP pastors in Cambitala village, also in Pantabangan. Taglinawan himself talked to Pastor Virgilio Perido Sr. and told him to “surrender” his two daughters, Pastor Beatriz, 34, the secretary-general of the local chapter of Karapatan, a human rights alliance; and Aprilyn, 26, an organizer of the urban poor group Kadamay.

In an interview with Bulatlat, Perido said that from May 27 until he finally left his home on June 3,

Taglinawan and his men kept coming to his house, threatening that if he does not turn in his daughters, the soldiers would “take care of them.”

Kung hindi, kami na ang bahala sa kanila, kung gusto ninyo mangyari sa kanila tulad ng iba pang pinatay,” (If you don’t turn them in, we would take care of them, if you want them to have the same fate as the others killed.) he quoted Taglinawan as saying. 

Hinahamon ko naman sila na kasuhan ang mga anak ko, mag-usap sila sa barangay, kung talagang may ginawang masama.  Pero ayaw ni Taglinawan,” (I challenged them to file charges against my daughters, file a complaint with the village council if they did anything wrong. But Taglinawan did not want to.) Perido said.

Meanwhile, in Baloc village, Sto. Domingo, another town in Nueva Ecija, Aglipayan priest Renato Respicio received death threats by way of a letter dropped in the donation box. Respicio is the priest at the Pro-Cathedral of St. Jerome of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente in Sto. Domingo.

Minamanmanan namin lahat ng kilos nio…tigil na, di nio mapapababa si presidente arroyo magpatayan lang tayo,” (We’re watching your every move…stop it, you can’t bring the president down. Let us just kill each other.) said part of the letter.

Earlier, on May 22, Respicio’s secretary, Angelina Hasa also received a letter warning her not to follow orders from the priest.

Wag kang magpagamit sa pari na yan, salot sa lipunan, kaaway ng gobyerno…di nila kaya si Gloria, mabibigo lang balak nila..Anakpawis, Gabriela, KMU salot sa lipunan, lumayo ka sa mga yan,”  (Don’t let that priest use you, he’s a menace to society, enemy of government… they can’t do anything to Gloria, they will just fail…Anakpawis, Gabriela, KMU are a menace to society, stay away from them.) the letter said.

Sr. Cecile Ruiz, Karapatan-Gitnang Luson chair, said that the threats were consistent with how the military tagged their group as “enemies” of the Arroyo administration.

“There can be no doubt that Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan is behind these atrocities against church workers and defenseless civilians. We strongly condemn this state-sponsored terrorism and hold President Arroyo responsible for allowing her security forces to terrorize the people,” Ruiz said. Palparan is the commanding officer of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division and accused of being behind the killings of activists.

Ruiz said that her group and the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan, or New Patriotic Alliance)-Gitnang Luson are sending letters of appeal to legislators and governors in the region to ask for help to put a stop to the killings. Bulatlat


© 2006 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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