Couple harassed by soldiers in Nueva Ecija, Philippines


At past 10am of 27 March 2008, two men onboard a motorcycle went to Janneber and Shirley Galapon’s home in Brgy. San Isidro, Lupao, Nueva Ecija. One of men identified himself as Lt. Villamin of the 71st Infrantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) that is based in Guimba, and asked Shirley where "Ka Junel" was.


At past 10am of 27 March 2008, two men onboard a motorcycle went to Janneber and Shirley Galapon’s home in Brgy. San Isidro, Lupao, Nueva Ecija. One of men identified himself as Lt. Villamin of the 71st Infrantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) that is based in Guimba, and asked Shirley where "Ka Junel" was.

Shirley told Villamin that she did not know who he is referring to. Villamin then asked for her husband’s whereabouts and Shirley answered that Janneber was in Manila attending to his application for a job overseas. Janneber left early that morning for Manila to undergo a medical examination required for the job application.

Shirley asked Villamin how they learned of their address and he answered that they asked around at the baranggay (village) hall, which was not far from the Galapon residence. They also asked when Janneber would return and said that they only want to ask Janneber a few questions to "clear up his name." The men left afterwards, saying that they will come back later for Janneber. Shirley later checked with her aunt, a baranggay council member, if anyone had asked for their address, her aunt said no one had asked about the Galapon’s at the baranggay hall.

Shirley, fearful for the safety of her husband, immediately sent him a text message. She advised him not to go home because some soldiers were looking for him.

The next day, 28 March, an uncle told Shirley that two soldiers stayed for a while at a neighbor’s house on the day she was visited by soldiers. The neighbor overheard the conversation of the soldiers that Janneber will be "titirahin" (killed) when he is found. The neighbor immediately reported this to Shirley’s uncle.

On 29 March 2008, Shirley and her son met with Janneber in San Jose City and told him of the visit and her uncle’s report.

Meanwhile, the Galapon home was again visited by the military, this time by a certain Pvt. Villarino. Villarino talked with Paula, Shirley’s niece who was attending to the couple’s sari-sari store, and asked for Janneber and for his mobile phone number. Paula was stricken with fear but did not give the information Villarino was asking for.

When Shirley returned home around noon, Paula immediately told her about Villarino. While they were talking, Villarino returned and asked Shirley the same questions he asked Paula earlier. Villarino insisted that they need to talk to Janneber to clear some matters about his alleged "case." Shirley said that Janneber is still in Manila.

On 31 March 2008, Shirley was visited separately by soldiers and Peping Aquino, a neighbor and a military informer in their baranggay.

Peping Aquino arrived at the Galapon home early in the morning. Aquino was also looking for Janneber and told Shirley that her husband is a revolutionary tax collector of the NPA which is why the soldiers were looking for him. Aquino also gave a deadline of April 1 for Janneber to talk with him and clear his name, before his "case" gets worse.

Shirley angrily exclaimed "Tigilan niyo ang asawa ko dahil walang katotohanan ang mga ibinibintang ninyo" (Stop going after my husband because all your allegations are not true). Aquino left afterwards.

Shortly thereafter, Pvt. Villarino arrived and urged Shirley to surrender her husband. Shirley said that she will not surrender her husband because she did not trust the soldiers.

Another soldier, this time identifying himself as Sgt. Cumuyog, also came looking for Janneber. Cumuyog also said the same thing as Villarino.

That was the last time elements of the military talked to Shirley. She however noted the heavy surveillance of their house. She would often see men hanging around the store next door, watching their house. Her relatives’ homes were also subjected to surveillance.

Janneber was an active youth coordinator of Basic Christian Community Organizing of St. John Parish in Guimba prior to working overseas. Since 1997, he has been employed as a carpenter in Taiwan and then in Saudi.

The Galapons narrated that they fear the military because of stories about their cruelty to many residents since they arrived in their village.

Shirley recounted that in 2005, she and her uncle, Tata Angel, along with other residents were "invited" for questioning by the soldiers at the baranggay hall. She said that Tata Angel who was interrogated inside the baranggay hall was asphyxiated with plastic bags around his head and was punched in the stomach. Shirley refused to be "interviewed" inside the hall. The soldiers had been asking the residents whether members of the New People’s Army (NPA) have been passing through their neighborhood.

Janneber also recalled that the killing of neighbor and Bgy. Councilor Andres Manangan in 2006 and Intong Bumatay in 2007 were perpetrated by the soldiers and not by NPAs. This information, according to Janneber, was disclosed by Peping Aquino himself.

Janneber and other residents witnessed the killing of councilor Andres Manangan. At that time, he was at home and on vacation from his overseas work.

Manangan was shot in front of his home by 2 masked men onboard a motorcyle. Janneber saw how the bloodied Manangan tried to crawl towards a nearby army detachment before he was fatally shot. The gunman addressed the witnesses "Ano, lalaban kayo? Mga NPA kami!" (Will you stop us? We’re NPAs). Janneber said that the soldiers manning the detachment did not do anything to stop the perpetrators.

Intong Bumatay was a member of the local peasant organization, and was suspected as an NPA by the soldiers.

Peping Aquino, who was a frequent visitor at the Galapon home, told Janneber that soldiers and not the NPAs killed Manangan and Bumatay. Aquino would also boast about his connections with the military and would even brandish a gun issued to him by soldiers.

Janneber and Shirley told Karapatan that as of now, the surveillance on their home continues and that they fear for their family’s safety. #