Press Release
January 27, 2020

Report: Investigate vigilante groups in Negros killings

Members of anti-communist vigilante groups should be unmasked and be made accountable in the spate of killings in Negros Island, a report stated.

Committee Report No. 33, prepared by the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, chaired by Sen. Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, and the Committee on Justice and Human Rights of Sen. Richard Gordon, submitted the report last week urging colleagues to adopt its recommendations and their immediate implementation.

The two committees made the recommendations after conducting a hearing on August 27, 2019, based on Senate Resolution Numbers 47 and 65 filed by Sens. Risa Hontiveros and Leila de Lima, respectively.

The report was signed by 11 senators.

CRN 33 recommended that members of anti-communist vigilante groups, such as "Kagubak," involved in the series of killings of alleged New People's Army should be unmasked and charged in court.

The report also recommended that the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines should conduct internal investigation and gather evidence for possible filing of administrative and criminal liabilities against police and military personnel involved in the implementation of "Oplan Sauron" for possible human rights abuses and/or violations of law, if any.

"To say that the period between October 2018 and July 2019 was bloody is a gross underestatement. In that eight-month period, a series of killings and attempted killings took place in both provinces. No one was spared - men, women and children suffered at the hands of lawless armed men," the report stated.

It cited the killing of nine farmers in October, 20, 2018 by some 40 armed men in Barangay Bulanon, Sagay City; and the killing of human rights lawyer last November 6, 2018.

In response, the Simultaneous Enhanced Managing of Police Operations (SEMPO), which involved the PNP and several battalions of the AFP, was launched on December 27, 2018. Its second version - Oplan Sauron - was also launched on March 30, 2019.

The launching of these two police-military operations saw the further escalation of killings in the two provinces, the report stated.

"During these simultaneous police operations, six persons were killed while 31 were arrested. Among those killed were habal-habal driver Reneboy Fat, Demetrio Fat, Jaime Revilla, Dondon Isugan, Jun Cubul of Guihuingan City, and Constancio Languita of Sta. Catalina town. The ones who were killed and many of those who were arrested were members of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON)," the report stated.

The committees also recommended the following:

  • Deploy additional police and military personnel to secure the provinces of Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental, and if possible, the neighboring provinces; and to augment local police in the said provinces, in order to better address the security needs of the people;

  •  Deploy more Commission on Human Rights Investigating Officers in Negros Islands for the continuing investigation of complaints or allegations of violations of human rights and abuses committed against the local residents, the police or military; and if the facts and evidence warrant, file the appropriate cases against those liable, and be held accountable for human rights abuses;

  • Provide the necessary budget for the CHR to hire more investigating officers to be assigned in all the regions in the country in order to efficiently and expeditiously conduct investigations into reported cases of human rights violations;

  •  Enhance and strengthen the cooperation between the CHR and the PNP, not only in the conduct of investigations regarding the series of killings in Negros Island, but all cases of human rights violations all over the country;

  •  Intensify anti-insurgency operations in identified rebel-infested areas in Negros Islands, but with due regard to the protection of human rights, and observance of the established principles of due process of law;

  •  Provide adequate socio-economic and psycho-social assistance to the families of individuals who were killed;

  •  For the PNP and AFP to review, evaluate and report to the President the effectiveness of Oplan Sauron in the objective to suppress and end lawless violence in the Negros Island;

  •  Give administrative and budgetary support to the full implementation of Executive Order 70 providing for a whole-of-nation approach in defeating the local communist terrorist groups. Towards this end, support must likewise be extended to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC); and

  •  Pursue amendments to Republic Act 9372, otherwise known as The Human Security Act, by considering the series of killings or violence as acts of terrorism, with the end goal of creating public emergency, and/or that which undermines public safety.

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