Farmer in Kabankalan City beheaded, rights groups alarmed at increasing abuse cases in Negros

Guillen’s brother said that the victim went missing when he returned to his house after they have been advised by the military to evacuate the place because of an encounter between government forces and the New People’s Army. Reports say that his decomposing decapitated body was found at the base of a ravine near the encounter site in barangay Tan-awan.

By PAGHIMUTAD

Human rights groups expressed concern at the increase of abuses against farmers caught in the crossfire between the Philippine Army and the New People’s Army in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental.

Last September 26, Saturday, the decapitated body of Bernardo Guillen, 50, was found by a search party headed by his brother, nine days after Guillen went missing on September 17.

Guillen’s brother said that the victim went missing when he returned to his house after they have been advised by the military to evacuate the place because of an encounter between government forces and the New People’s Army. Reports say that his decomposing decapitated body was found at the base of a ravine near the encounter site in barangay Tan-awan.

Human rights advocates in Negros Island are also investigating reports of illegal arrests of five other farmers and the torture of another, also from communities around the encounter site.

In a statement, the September 21 Movement asserts that the murder of Guillen is meant to instill fear among the residents, adding that this is reminiscent of the horrors of Martial Law and Oplan Thunderbolt in the 1980s.

The group said that from 2018 to 2019, about 40 farmers have already been killed allegedly with the Philippine Army’s Oplan Sauron and other counter-insurgency campaign.

In a statement, Sama-samang Artista para sa Kilusang Agraryo (SAKA) said that Guillen is the 275th farmer killed under President Duterte.

Meanwhile, Karapatan Negros Island asked the Commission on Human Rights to investigate these cases and called on the public to help stand and defend the rights of poor farmers by public condemning these abuses.

“We challenge the local government to address these killings and gross human rights violations happening in the communities of farmers,” Clarizza Singson, secretary general of Karapatan Negros, said in a statement, reiterating that these abuses happened in areas of intensified military operations.

SAKA blamed the administration’s counterinsurgency programs for the killings.

“With Executive Order 70 or the ‘whole-of-nation approach’ to ending the communist insurgency in place, the implementation of anti-people policies like Memorandum Order 32 and the Terror Law will keep taking civilian lives while refusing to address the roots of the civil war,” the group said.

“The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, an overfunded child of EO70, continues to sanction the assassination of unarmed activists by redtagging them,” they added.

Mutilation prohibited in international laws

Former Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said that mutilation is prohibited under the Geneva Conventions.

Casilao, also spokesperson of Defend Negros, appealed to the international community specifically the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) to add Guillen’s killing to the long list of human rights violations under the and to hold Duterte administration accountable for its crimes against humanity. ()
(With reports from Anne Marxze D. Umil)

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