Oplan Bayanihan Phase 2 opens 2014 with 3 EJK and 4 frustrated killings

“Having admitted the failure of Oplan Bayanihan Phase 1 as early as July 2013, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is trying to offset it by attacking civilians and accusing them as members or sympathizers of the Communist rebels. For January alone, three victims of extrajudicial killing and four victims of frustrated killing were documented,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay. 

Those killed were: a worker in Sorsogon; a farmer in Hacienda Dolores in Pampanga where there is an on-going land dispute between the farmers and the Leonardo-Lachenal Holdings, Inc. (LHI) FL Property Management Corp. (FL PMC) and Ayala Land; and, an anti-mining activist in Compostela Valley who survived typhoon Pablo/Bopha. Sorsogon in the Bicol region and Compostela Valley are among the priority areas of BS Aquino’s counterinsurgency program. 

“Naghahabol ng deadline ang gobyerno ni Aquino at ang AFP (The Aquino government and the AFP is trying to catch up with its self-imposed deadline),” is how Palabay described the series of killings and other cases human rights violations committed at the start of the year. “The government has to fulfill its internal deadline because it will also affect the US government’s Asian pivot. Oplan Bayanihan is timed with the US Asian pivot. The US$ 40 million military aid pledged by US State Secretary John Kerry in December serves this purpose,” added Palabay. 

The documented cases of EJK and frustrated killing are: 

On January 30, Henry C. Orbina and Bryan Orbina Gallega, both employees of BMH Manpower Services were fired upon by elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) detailed at the PNP Outpost in Cabid-an, Sorsogon City. Henry Orbina died instantly from multiple gunshot wounds while Bryan Gallega was arrested, detained, and subsequently charged with trumped-up cases at the Prosecution Service Office. A grenade and a .45 caliber pistol were allegedly found in his possession. Gallega was charged with violation of the Comprehensive Law on firearms and Ammunition (RA 1059) and violation of Explosive Law (RA 9516). 

Both the Sorsogon PNP and the 903rd Infantry Brigade-Philippine Army, through its commanding officer Col. Kakilala, accused the victims as NPA rebels. The BMH Manpower Services claims Orbina and Gallega as its employees. 
On January 13, Arman Padino died from a gunshot wound in the head when suspected security guards and goons of Leonardo-Lachenal Holdings, Inc (LHI) FL Property Management Corp. (FL PMC) and Ayala Land fired upon three farmers in Hacienda Dolores in Pampanga on January 12. 

The two other victims, father and son Noel and Reynold Tumali, survived the attack but were wounded. The three were on their way to their farms when they were fired upon by the security guards and goons. The perpetrators also fired upon village officials who responded to the victims, who were later charged with malicious mischief and carnapping by LHI and FL PMC. 

Padino and the Tumalis are among the 350 farmers and 1,000 families who will be displaced by the real estate project of the LHI and FL PMC, with the Ayala Land. It has been eight months since the corporation fenced off some 700 hectares of land and prohibited farmers from working on their farms. 

On January 3, Marcelo Monterona was testing his newly repaired multicab on the road. He was already near the house of a friend, Edgardo Sedillo, when two unidentified men aboard an XRM motorcycle stopped near the driver’s seat of the multicab. Witnesses said the gunman went straight to the driver’s seat and shot Monterona with a .45 caliber pistol, hitting him on the left side of his mouth. He tried to crawl out of the vehicle through the passenger’s side but the gunman got on the vehicle through the driver’s side door and shot Monterona several times more before speeding away. 

Monterona fell out of the vehicle and was rushed to a hospital in Tagum City by his wife and son. Edgardo Sedillo, who was grazed by a stray bullet in the stomach, was also brought to the hospital. Monterona was pronounced Dead on Arrival (DOA), while Sedillo, who sustained minor injuries, was discharged of the hospital on the same day.

Monterona was an active Council member of Indug Kautawan. He actively participated in national and local campaigns against the large-scale and open-pit mining operations of the Apex Mining Company. Last year, he and other victims of the typhoon Pablo/Bopha barricaded the gates of the mining company in Maco, paralyzing its operations. Monterona also campaigned for the pull-out of 71st Infantry Battalion from the communities, criticized the military’s aerial bombings in the area, and demanded justice for the slain Pedro Tinga, also a member of Indug Kautawan, and other human rights abuses by the military.