Appeal for Action: Locals who volunteered to help wounded soldiers massacred by soldiers

karapatan-updates@googlegroups.com: Aug 26 10:03AM +0800

Appeal for Action:  Locals who volunteered to help wounded soldiers massacred by soldiers

UA Date : August 25, 2015

UA Case : Massacre/Extrajudicial Killing

Victim/s :

Massacre:

Adam Fajardo

– Male, 34 years old

– Habal-habal (single motorcycle used as service) driver

Joebert Badillo

– Male, 27 years old

– Habal-habal driver

Gary Vistar

– Male, 37 years old

– Habal-habal driver

Rogelio Abelida Jr.

– Male, 26 years old

– Small businessman

Place of Incident : National Highway, Barangay (village) Del Carmen, Uson, Masbate

Date of Incident : August 3, 2015

Alleged Perpetrator(s) : Members of 9th Infantry Battalion and 903rd Brigade of the Philippine Army

Account of the Incident:

At around 4 p.m. of August 3, 2015, members of the Bravo Company of the 9th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA), 93rd Division Reconnaissance Company, 96th Military Intelligence Command, Regional Intelligence Unit (RIU) 5 and members of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) Masbate was ambushed by members of the New People’s Army at the National Highway, Brgy. Del Carmen, Uson, Masbate. According to news reports, Sgt. Fernandez Leynes Jr. was killed, while four other soldiers and an embedded reporter Jet Ramos were wounded.

The ambush happened three kilometres away from Bgy. Del Carmen, where a fellow soldier Lt. Romel Arnado resides. As soon as Arnado received a call from fellow soldiers who were ambushed, he immediately sought the help of barangay captain (village chief) Sulpicio Abelida Mahinay to use the village’s patrol car to bring the wounded soldiers to the nearest hospital. Mahinay readily agreed.

Mahinay asked four habal-habal drivers Adam Fajardo, Joebert Badillo, Gary Vistar, and Mahinay’s nephew Rogelio Abelida, Jr to help the soldiers.

The habal-habal drivers went ahead to the place of incident. After ten minutes, the barangay’s patrol car arrived. Bgy. Capt. Mahinay immediately helped the wounded soldiers to the patrol car while talking to some of the soldiers.

After some time, three teachers of Del Carmen National High School headed by Mr. Quiles went to the ambush site to see if it was safe for the students from the school to pass by the highway. Mr. Quiles noticed that a checkpoint was already set-up and a number of soldiers were resting, eating snacks and smoking cigarettes. Mr. Quiles asked one of the soldiers if the students going home may pass through, but the soldier advised him otherwise.

Just before the teachers were about to leave, Rogelio Abelida, Jr. called on Mr. Philip Quiles. Mr. Quiles noticed Abelida Jr. and his companions were being held by the soldiers and were seated next to each other at the side of the road. Mr. Quiles informed the soldiers that he knew Abelida and the three habal-habal drivers and asked if he could bring them back. The soldiers declined saying only the teachers could go back but the four drivers should stay behind.

“Please tell mama that I am here,” Abelida Jr. told Mr. Quiles. The teachers then rode on their motorcycles and went back to school. That was the last time the four were seen alive. Five minutes later, several
gunshots were heard.

It was already around 5:30 p.m. when Bgy. Capt. Mahinay arrived at their village hall. He was surprised to see so many people, the family and friends of the habal-habal drivers he asked to help the soldiers. He found out that the four were held by the soldiers and were already dead.

Mahinay immediately rode a motorcycle with Rogelio’s brother, Mark Abelida, to check on the four. On the way, they noticed two military trucks moving and were escorted on both sides by soldiers who were on foot. They decided to follow the trucks. It was then Mark noticed that the truck was loaded with corpses. Although it was covered, Mark was able to recognize the clothes of his brother Rogelio.

Around 6:45 p.m., the trucks arrived at the town’s plaza just beside the barangay hall. The military truck entered the plaza and the soldiers closed the plaza gates. Even Mahinay, who introduced himself as the barangay captain, was not allowed inside. It was only around 7:20 p.m., when the police came, that the gates of the plaza were opened. The village officers and the families of the four immediately went inside. The soldiers tried to prevent the families to see the bodies but Madel, Gary Vistar’s wife, insisted. Using a flashlight, because electricity was cut off at that time, Madel was able to identify her husband’s dead body. She cried out loud. The other families began to see the bodies of their dead kin. They also started to cry out loud.

Mahinay confronted the soldiers saying the four were his constituents and one of them was his nephew whom he requested to assist the wounded soldiers. “They were NPA,” the soldiers just said.

The four’s relatives and friends were crying angrily and they shouted at the soldiers. An estimate of 300 residents of barangay Del Carmen gathered at the plaza that night to show their grief and anger.

Adam Fajardo left behind four children from his first marriage and three children, all minors, from his second marriage. His wife in the second marriage just died, making their children orphans.

Joebert Badillo is a habal-habal driver and sometimes works as a driver for certain soldier Sgt. Ramos.

Gary Vistar left behind three children, all minors. His eldest is eight years old and his youngest is barely eight months old.

Rogelio supplies chicken and duck eggs to stores in Del Carmen. He was the nephew of Bgy. Capt. Mahinay.

Recommended Action:

Send letters, emails or fax messages to call on the Aquino government to:

1. Immediately conduct an independent investigation with a team composed of representatives from human rights groups, churches, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that will investigate the
massacre of Fajardo, Badillo, Vistar, and Abelida;

2. Immediately prosecute soldiers involved in the massacre;

3. Withdraw its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians;

4. Respect and observe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all the major Human Rights instruments as a signatory to these instruments.

You may send your communications to:

H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III

President of the Republic <http://www.president.gov.ph/>

Malacañang Palace,

JP Laurel St., San Miguel

Manila Philippines

Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80

Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968

E-mail: op@president.gov.ph

Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles

Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
<http://opapp.gov.ph/contact>

7th Floor Agustin Building I

Emerald Avenue

Pasig City 1605

Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066

Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216

stqd.papp@opapp.gov.ph <stqd.papp@opapp.gov.ph>

Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin

Secretary, Department of National Defense
<http://www.dnd.gov.ph/DND-Key%20Officials.htm>

Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,

E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City

Voice:+63(2) 911-6193 / 911-0488 / 982-5600

Fax:+63(2) 982-5600

Email: osnd@philonline.com, dnd.opla@gmail.com

Atty. Leila De Lima

Secretary, Department of Justice
<http://doj.gov.ph/directory-of-officials.html>

Padre Faura St., Manila

Direct Line 521-1908

Trunkline 523-84-81 loc.211/214

Fax: (+632) 523-9548

Email: lmdelima@doj.gov.ph, lmdelima.doj@gmail.com,lmdelima.doj@gmail.com

Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon

Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights

SAAC Bldg., UP Complex

Commonwealth Avenue

Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines

Voice: (+632) 928-5655, (+632) 926-6188

Fax: (+632) 929 0102

E-mail: comsec@chr.gov.ph

Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below.

URGENT ACTION Prepared by:

KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights National Office

2/F Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin cor Matatag Sts., Brgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City 1100 PHILIPPINES

Voice/Fax: (+632) 435 4146

Email: urgentaction@karapatan.org

Website: www.karapatan.org