Rights groups back probe into Himamaylan massacre; slams AFP claims vs NPA
MANILA, Philippines — Human rights groups on Wednesday called for a genuine investigation into the massacre of the Fausto peasant family of four in Negros Occidental, disputing the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) version that the culprits are the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.
“ICHRP (The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines) rejects allegations by the AFP that this crime was committed by the NPA… [and] joins the growing demand for a genuine investigation of the killings and justice for the Fausto family,” said chairperson Peter Murphy, who made his statement based on reports from rights group Karapatan.
The ICHRP also echoed previous reports that the massacre was committed by the AFP’s 94th Infantry Battalion (IB), citing the unit’s last alleged attacks: the killing of farmer Jose Gonzales Himamaylan City and the murder of farmer Crispin Tingal Jr. in Kabankalan City.
“In Kabankalan City, five farmer associations have already denounced the coercion and harassment carried out by the 94th IB,” reported the ICHRP.
“These farmer associations were summoned in their barangay to sign a resolution denouncing the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA and their alleged front organizations. Subsequently, elements of the 94th IB repeatedly approached and pressured the leaders of these farmer associations to adopt the resolution,” it added.
The Philippine Army under the AFP has previously denied their hand in the Faustos’ killings and believed that “communist terrorists” want to taint the military’s reputation by diverting blame.
Meanwhile, Karapatan has alerted alleged state harassment of progressive groups that have attempted to conduct fact-finding missions on the Faustos’ case.
“The NTF-Elcac’s (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) minions have threatened to file charges against those who condemned the massacre of the Fausto family in Himamaylan, Negros Occidental and called on authorities to arrest members of progressive groups out to conduct a fact-finding mission,” said the group.
“Such threats and intimidation are obviously frantic attempts to prevent the fact-finding mission from exposing the sordid truth behind the killings,” Karapatan asserted.
Karapatan also decried claims that independent fact-finding would “obstruct justice” as police and state probes are also ongoing.
“Yet, those who blurted out such rubbish had nothing to say when the military had the gall to present its own dubious narrative, accusing Rolly Fausto of being an informer, and claiming that the red-tagging was all for show,” asserted the rights group.
Both ICHRP and Karapatan reaffirmed previous reports by Negros-based groups that the Fausto family had been continuously red-tagged and assaulted by military personnel before their deaths, primarily for their involvement in activist peasant organizations such as the Baclayan, Bito, Cabagal Farmers and Farmworkers Association and Iglesia Filipina Independiente.
Incidents of the AFP’s previous alleged harassment of the Fausto family include several break-ins, robbery of cash and livestock, and physical assault.
ICHRP also called upon the government to make its move on this and other killings in the province, reporting that 24 farmers have been killed by state forces in Negros alone since President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. assumed power in 2022.
“We call on the Marcos Jr. administration to rescind the 2017 Memorandum Order 32 and Executive Order 70, which put Negros under virtual martial law, and set up the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict which drives the red-tagging and subsequent political killings nation-wide. We also call on the Marcos Jr. administration to repeal the 2020 Anti-Terrorism Law, which gives free rein to Executive violation of human rights,” said Murphy.