Contrary to military claims that they were members of militia of the Communist Party of the Philippines, the slain indigenous peoples in Panay had long been asserting their right to land and life in the face of so-called development projects. In return, they had been tagged as enemies of the state and subjected to intense militarization over the years.
12th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (12IBPA) troopers and the Philippine National Police in Western Visayas swooped down on Tumandok communities in Calinog in Iloilo and Tapaz in Capiz and killed nine civilians in a Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operation (SEMPO).
“Even before the Spaniards came, we were already on the land. We have lived here for centuries, and we’re still here up to now.”