ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-134-2015

04 November 2015
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PHILIPPINES : Civilians assisting wounded soldiers shot dead

ISSUES: Extrajudicial killings, Right to life
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Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) deeply regrets to inform you that four civilians assisting ambushed soldiers were shot dead and accused of being rebels. The victims were allegedly killed by the Bravo Company of the 9th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army.

CASE DETAILS: (Based on the documentation by Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples Rights (KARAPATAN))

On 3 August 2015, 4 p.m., 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) and five members of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) Masbate were 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 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 the ambushed soldiers, 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 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 their students 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, all family and friends of the habal-habal drivers he had asked to help the soldiers. He found out that the four had been held and shot dead by the soldiers.

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 at 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 second wife just died, leaving their children orphans. Joebert Badillo is a habal-habal driver and sometimes works as a driver for 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.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Kindly send letters to the concerned authorities listed below requesting for their immediate intervention in this case.

The AHRC is also writing a separate letter to the Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions, calling for their intervention in this case.

To support this case, please click here:  support

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

PHILIPPINES: Civilians assisting wounded soldiers shot dead

Name of the victim:
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
Name of Alleged Perpetrator:
Members of 9th Infantry Battalion and 903rd Brigade of the Philippine Army
Date of incident: August 3, 2015
Place of Incident: National Highway , Barangay (village) Del Carmen, Uson, Masbate

I am writing to draw your attention to the shooting of four civilians appointed by Brgy Captain Mahinay to help ambushed soldiers. On 3 August 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 were 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.

I have learned that after the four civilians helped to deliver the wounded soldiers to the nearest hospital, they were detained by soldiers assigned to the check point near the ambushed area. Mr. Quiles, a teacher at Del Carmen National High School tried to inform the soldiers that he knew Abelida and the three habal-habal drivers and asked if he could bring them back. The soldiers declined.

At dawn, several gunshots were heard from the check point area. Barangay Captain Mahinay found out that the four constituents who helped the wounded soldiers were shot dead, mistaken for members of the New People’s Army.

I respectfully urge the Philippine National Police to conduct an immediate investigation into this killing of civilians and the investigation of the alleged involvement of military members is initiated. Also, ensure that the families of the victims are given protection adequately. The Commission on Human Rights of the Phillipines should monitor and evaluate whether the investigation is conducted in accordance with standards of fair trial.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Benigno Aquino III
President
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

2. Ms. Loretta Ann Rosales
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
E-mail: chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com

3. Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building , Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue , Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488
Fax:+63(2) 911 6213
Email: osnd@philonline.com

4. Ms. Leila de Lima
Secretary
Department of Justice (DOJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
1004 Manila
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
E-mail: soj@doj.gov.ph

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk

Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (ua@ahrc.asia)

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