Press Statement, Northern Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (NNAHRA)
Reference: Rey Alburo, March 31, 2019

The Northern Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (NNAHRA) condemns in the strongest terms possible the killing of 14 peasants in Canlaon City, Manjuyod and Sta. Catalina, Negros Oriental yesterday, March 30, 2019, as the Philippine National Police-Region (PNP) – Region 7, its Special Action Forces (SAF) and Regional Mobile Force (RMF), along with elements of the 94th Infantry Brigade Philippine Army, conducted yet again a supposed “anti- criminality” synchronized enhanced management of police operations or SEMPO that they call “Oplan Sauron.”

Reportedly killed in yesterday’s Sauron operations were 8 farmers from Canlaon City: Avelino brothers Ismael, 53, and Edgardo, 59, of Sitio Carmen, Barangay Panubigan; Mechor Panares, 67, and his son, Mario, 46 of Sitio
Tigbahi, Barangay Bayog; Rogelio Recomono, 52 and his son Ricky, 28, of Sitio Manggata, Barangay Masulog; Gonzalo Rosales, 47, of Barangay Pula and Genes Palmares, 54 of Barangay Aquino.

Edgardo Avelino was the chairman of HUKOM or Hugpong Kusog sa Mag-uuma sa Canlaon City, a local chapter of the national peasant group Kilusang Magububukid ng Pilipinas (KMP). Aside from the killings, authorities also illegally arrested around 12 other farmers, including Nestor Kadusale, 58, of Sitio Kambugtong, Barangay
Bantolinao, also a local leader of the KMP in Manjuyod town.

Four killed in Manjuyod include two barangay captains: Valentin (“Eric” in police report) Acabal of Barangay Kandabong, and Sonny Palagtiw of Barangay Panciao; and two farmers, Steve Arapoc and Manulo Martin.

Two others were in killed in Sta. Catalina town, identified as Franklin Lariosa and Ano Enojo Rapada.

The first wave of Oplan Sauron was conducted in Guihulngan City and two other towns, also in Negros Oriental, on December 27, 2018, a day after the 50th anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Six peasants were killed and 50 others were arrested.

Yesterday’s murderous rampage came a day after the 50th founding anniversary of the New People’s Army (NPA). As in the first wave of Oplan Sauron, authorities justified the operations as an “anti-criminality” drive against drugs
and “loose firearms.” Right after, the police would allege that the victims were killed in a shoot-out with rebels and tag them as combatants and now, members of so-called “sparrow units” of the NPA.

The appalling conduct of these “police operations” obviously aims to make peasants, activitists, and other ordinary citizens of Negros to cower in fear, surrender their rights, and accept the wave of terror under de facto Martial Law
and Malacanang’s Memorandum Order No. 32.

The police and military in Negros are hard-pressed to meet their quotas in “ending the communist insurgency” as ordered by President Duterte through Executive Order 70, that they target ordinary farmers and civilians whom they tag either as supporters or actual rebel combantants, and present them as “surenderees” or worse, as casualties in these anomalous “encounters.”

The people of Northern Negros are not strangers to these attacks by the PNP and AFP. This second wave of Oplan Sauron continues the government’s bloody crackdown against organized peasants in Negros which started with the series of EJKs of peasant leaders and the Sagay massacre. A few days ago, elements of the 79th IB returned toSitio Magtuod in Barangay Bug-ang, Toboso, to once again harass and threaten the members of the Pakigdait sa
Kalambuan (PSK) farmers cooperative. More than 100 individuals from Escalante City are also said to be in the “arrest list” or “kill list” of the next Oplan Sauron operation.

With this murderous pattern of the AFP and PNP in Negros, another Escalante massacre is not far from happening.

More than 60 peasants have been killed in Negros under Duterte. The wave of killings must stop. End these demonic Sauron operations and pull-out military troops from peasant communities of Negros.

Justice for all victims!

#StoptheAttacks #StopKillingFarmers