DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A group of sugarcane workers hit out the continued deployment of soldiers and police in the remote communities of Negros Occidental in what they feared as a systematic crackdown against activists in the province.
John Milton Lozande, speaking for the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), said the Army’s 302ndInfantry Brigade deployed 1, 000 police and military troops in the hinterlands of Guihulngan City, La Libertad, Mabinay, Santa Catalina, and other parts of Negros Oriental since the evening of December 27 up to the present.
Lozande said government troops have killed six people because “they fought it out with the brigade size security forces ala Tokhang style and arrested 16 persons.”
Among those killed was Jesus “Dondon” Isugan, son of Kaugmaon KMP peasant organizers Delia and Dominador Isugan. Others were habal-habal drivers Reneboy Fat and Jaime Revilla, who are community organizers and Demetrio Fat, who is a brother in law of a peasant organizer.
He added that authorities have also arrested peasant organizer Margie Baylosis, cousin of Joey Baylosis, also a peasant organizer who was arbitrarily arrested with five others in Mabinay.
“These atrocities come at a time after the Sagay Massacre, the killing of Atty. Benjamin Ramos the recent arrest of NFSW local leader Ricky Canete; the death threats against another peasant, worker and human rights and development workers, and military operations in Northern Negros,” Lozande said.
Lozande further alleged that government troops have 119 search warrants with them for loose firearms and illegal drugs.
“More than 80 of those warrants are in Guihulngan City and only 20 have been served so far. But reports from Karapatan Negros reveal that no warrants were shown to those who were arrested and firearms were planted to them and to those who were killed,” he noted.
He added: “The NFSW demands a halt to these military operations in Negros Oriental and an independent investigation of these atrocities and justice to those who were killed and arrested. If this would not be stopped, this could be replicated in other areas similarly situated like Samar, the Bicol region and especially in Mindanao where martial law was extended.”(davaotoday.com)