Progressive partylists’ conference in Cagayan, Philippines raided by suspected members of the AFP

The victims were conducting a workshop-planning on Regional Development Center-Northern Luzon/ Katinnulong Daguiti Umili iti Amianan’s (RDC-NL/KADUAMI) Projects Monitoring and Evaluation back-to-back with a Regional Leaders' Conference on Election and Governance. The participants were members of the partner organizations of RDC/KADUAMI and the activities were being facilitated by its staff. The workshop-planning and conference was for June 9 to June 11, 2009.  

Participants are known leaders of the mass organizations and peoples’ organizations DANGGAYAN-Cagayan Valley (CV), DAGAMI-Isabela, KAGIMUNGAN-Cagayan, AMIHAN-CV, Save the Valley Serve the People Alliance for the Environment-CV, KARAPATAN-CV, Anakbayan-CV, League of Filipino Students-CV, SAMASA-Ilagan, and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan- Cagayan and Isabela; Citizens' Alliance for Reformed Elections (CARE); some are leaders of the partylists ANAKPAWIS, KABATAAN, GABRIELA, BAYAN MUNA; four (4) are RDC-NL/KADUAMI staff-Cagayan Valley.

The delegation arrived at the Mascoop Resort around noon of June 9, 2009.

At midnight of June 11, Vincent Guzman was smoking by the bedroom window when an M16 rifle was pointed at his face. As soon as he saw this, he immediately ran away from the window to wake up his roommate Ignacio Ugaddan. Both of them ran out of their room towards the session hall where they saw more armed men swarming inside the building. Guzman and Ugaddan ran back to their room and wakened Robert Pascua and Nestor Siddayao. Siddayao immediately ran to lock the bedroom door, but a man armed with a .45 caliber pistol forcibly pushed the door open and entered the room. Another man with an M16 rifle and bandolier followed suit. The perpetrators pointed their guns at the victims and commanded, “Dapa!” (“Drop to the ground!”).  One of the perpetrators demanded from Pascua, “Nasaan ang laptop? Nasaan ang laptop?” (“Where's the laptop?”). Pascua replied that he doesn't have a laptop.

The commotion woke up the other male participants billeted in the same room, Aldwin Kenneth Baldovino, Reymel Remoso and Wyner Tamayo, but they were also ordered to drop face down on the ground. The armed men then proceeded to search through the victims' belongings and took Pascua's wallet and Tamayo's sling bag.

Another group of armed men were forcing their way inside the other male participants' quarters next door, where Noven Concepcion and Reynaldo Abrogena were sleeping. Awakened by the banging on their bedroom door, Concepcion braced the door with his body. But the men outside banged and finally kicked the door open.

Concepcion was dragged out of their room and was kicked hard by one perpetrators who commanded him, “Dapa! Dapa! (“Get down!”). He was forced to get down on his knees and was hit on his back with a riffle butt, while the other perpetrators were already seizing his and his companions' belongings, including a laptop. Concepcion screamed in pain.

The victims from the first room saw what was happening to Concepcion  and reacted, but their captors said, “Walang magre-react, babarilin ko” (Nobody react, or i'll shoot you!).

In another sleeping quarters, Virgilio Corpuz had already seen through the windows the perpetrators’ entry into the building and woke up his roommate, Jessie Alan. Alan hid inside the adjacent bathroom and Corpuz threw himself under one of the beds. Their bedroom door was also forced open, and from where he was hiding, Corpuz saw 2 men, one in combat boots and camouflage pants, and another in maong (denim) pants, enter the room. The perpetrators also forced open the bathroom door, grabbed Alan, threw him on the bed amd pointed the barrel of a rifle on his neck. The perpetrators seized their bags and other belongings.

The women, sleeping in the rooms at the other side of the building, also suffered a similar ordeal. Some of the perpetrators also banged against, kicked at and hit with rifles the bedroom door where Lita Iloreta, Gretchen Valdez, Angelita Bulesco and Joelida Garcia were sleeping.

Iloreta, Valdez and Bulesco ran inside their bedroom's adjacent bathroom, as Garcia ran to the window to shout for help. Seeing no other residential houses nearby, she tried to prevent their bedroom door from being opened by pushing herself against it.

The perpetrators outside the women's bedroom continued to hit against the door and was able to break the doorknob. A rifle was poked through the hole where the doorknob used to be, and when Garcia saw this, she immediately ran for safety inside the bathroom where her companions were already hiding. The bedroom door was finally forced open and an armed man ran after Garcia who locked themselves inside. The man banged against the bathroom door and shouted, “Buksan n'yo ito! Lumabas kayo diyan!” (Open this door! Get out of there!). Again, the bathroom door was forced open and the man pointed and cocked his rifle at the fear-stricken women, and ordered them to keep quiet, “Walang maingay!”. The women raised their hands and pleaded, “Huwag kuya!” (Please don't).

Other perpetrators were already collecting the women’s bags and a laptop. The victims heard another man saying, “Tayo na!” (Let's go!) and the armed men left the room.

In another female quarters next door to Garcia's, more armed men forced their way inside the room where Jasmin Nelmida, Wilma Valencia and Rubylyn Alabo were sleeping. Alabo screamed in fear and a rifle was pointed at her face by a man who ordered her to shut up.

Alabo attempted to jump out of the bedroom window but was grabbed and dragged back inside the room. She was forced to the ground and was hit with rifle butts on her thighs. Alabo heard the man who grabbed her shout to another, “Panyo, panyo!” (Handkerchief!) Fearing that she will be tied and gagged, she willed herself to stand up and she jumped out the window.

Alabo was able to crawl her away around the seminar house, hoping to escape, but she saw more armed men surrounding the building. She then crawled back to her bedroom window and her colleagues helped her back inside. By this time, the armed men had already left their bedroom, taking with them all the women's belongings and a laptop.

Isabelo Adviento was alone in his sleeping quarters during the entire incident. His bedroom door was also being kicked and banged against, but he pushed himself against it to prevent the perpetrators from entering the room. Adviento heard a voice outside the room saying, “Tara na! Tara na!” (Let's go! Let's go!) and the banging on the door stopped.

The victims recounted that the perpetrators ran off towards the direction of the beach. The incident happened in only about five minutes.

The perpetrators took a total of 15 cellphones, 3 laptops, cash amounting to almost PhP20,000, a digital voice recorder, 2 digital cameras, flash drives and other gadgets, notebooks, planners, bags containing clothes, wallets and other personal belongings such as IDs, vital documents, jewelries, and ATM cards.

The victims’ food supplies were also destroyed.

The police, who later responded to the incident, recovered three (3) live M16 ammunitions from the site. The police also noted that the lock on the sliding glass door in the main hallway was bent, which they suspect that the armed men also forced the door open discretely.

Prior to the attack, the victims noticed that they seem to be under surveillance. On their arrival at the resort, a member of the delegation reported to the secretariat that he noticed that their group was being followed by two men on-board a motorcycle during their journey.

On June 10, some of the participants noticed  two unidentified men and two unidentified women standing outside at the front of the seminar house taking pictures of the building. The group of strangers then entered a cottage, approximately 100 meters away from where the delegation was staying.

At around 5PM of the same day, while taking a break from the workshop, the participants saw an owner-type jeep parked in front of the same cottage where they saw the strangers enter that morning. Some of the participants decided to go to the beach that afternoon, and while walking towards the beach, they passed by near the cottage. They saw a man setting up a video camera on top of the jeep, who seemed to be taking video of the group. Later, the group saw another man went out of the cottage and watch them from the shore.

The police investigators said that these suspicious-looking people called themselves “human rights evaluators.”

Some of the victims have also reported other prior incidents of being followed or being under surveillance during the course of their work.