Karapatan: Let’s mourn and fight for Negros

“State terrorism torments Negros. Civilians are being killed, as the police and the military are on a rampage to destroy communities. Oplan Sauron has claimed the lives of 41 civilians since its implementation, and in the past months, the country bore witness to the region’s bloodiest days. State forces wear their mercenary uniforms, usually a black mask and civilian clothing, and ride their motorcycle to hound and eventually kill their victims – at night or in broad daylight. They seemingly follow legal processes, but someone always “fights back.” In their stories, laging may nanlalaban. The dead cannot dispute the lies, and even the families who have seen the horror are being harassed to no end,” narrated Karapatan Vice Chairperson Reylan Vergara, describing the gross human rights violations in Negros.

Karapatan joins Negros, alongside the families of the victims today, August 20, 2019, on the National Day of Mourning and Solidarity to call for an end to the killings in the region. According to the rights group, of the 87 reported killings in Negros since the start of Duterte’s term, 55 were confirmed to be perpetrated by State forces. “These are people and residents targeted for their political beliefs or their affiliation to progressive organizations often already red-tagged by the government,” explained Palabay.

“Throughout the killings in Negros, no due process was met. Everything was arbitrary and the narrative of these deaths are controlled by the perpetrators who executed the killings – state forces by day and masked mercenaries by night, or the other way around. We have seen this government’s worst in the most recent incidents in Negros. No one is spared, not teachers, not children, not farmers, not lawyers. The Duterte regime wants to capitalize the terror it has created by declaring martial law. Dictatorship is indeed being handed out in piecemeal repressive policies that have taken the lives of thousands,” added Vergara.

He also pointed out that most of the killings documented by Karapatan in the first two quarters of 2019 were concentrated in Negros, Eastern Visayas, and Bicol – all of the regions placed under a state of emergency per Memorandum Order No. 32, alongside the implementation of counterinsurgency campaigns and Executive Order No. 70.” This is not a coincidence. M.O. 32 along with the numerous chunks of fascist policies, is meant to normalize and legitimize repression and State terror. Entire communities remain militarized, to ensure the injustice remains untold; to silence the region’s cry for help.  Indeed, there is already a de facto martial law in Negros, and the vultures are itching to make it official,” he noted.

“The bloodshed in Negros is an orchestrated attack. The government says the victims are terrorists, communist sympathizers, and enemies of the State, but with no ounce of evidence to prove it. They are scapegoating, blaming it on various other actors, except for its own state forces who are lurking in communities where killings are rampant. Wherever there is a spike in the deployment of police and military forces, the gross human rights violations likewise heighten. After all, it is no secret that the government has the machinery, the personnel, the resources, the reputation, and the twisted, murderous intentions to perpetrate these attacks. We are enraged as the killings continue, but our resolve remains firm. We call on all sectors to push back and resist against outright fascism in Negros,” Vergara concluded