Karapatan reiterates call to stop the killings, seeks independent investigation on the massacre of three civilians in Masbate

An independent and impartial investigation of the killings of civilians Ailyn Ekit Bulalacao, Ramon Boy Valenzuela Brioso and Antonio Poligrates in Masbate is in order, according to human rights watchdog Karapatan, as it emphasized that the deaths of union leader Nolven Absalon and his cousin Kieth due to a New People’s Army (NPA) operation is “never an excuse for the government security forces to exact retribution by murdering civilians in cold blood.” Karapatan condemned the massacre last Tuesday, June 8, of Bulalacao, Brioso and Poligrates whom the military claimed were the NPA rebels responsible for the deaths of the Absalon cousins.

According to an initial report from Karapatan - Bicol and accounts of their relatives, Bulalacao, Brioso and Poligrates were abducted separately from Aroroy, Milagros and Cawayan towns by elements of the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and the Masbate Police Provincial Office on the night of June 7, Monday. They were later brought to Sitio Purang, Brgy. Anas, Masbate City, where they were killed by the police and military in a supposedly armed encounter on June 8 at around 5:30 a.m.

“Abducting three innocent civilians in the dead of night, fabricating an armed encounter to cover up their brutal murder, and branding them as the rebels responsible for the deaths of the Absalon cousins is neither demanding accountability nor rendering justice. There is no justice in using their deaths as an excuse to unleash State violence and terror. These State-sponsored killings should stop,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay stated.

Bulalacao, 38, was a resident of Sitio Bantolinao, Brgy. Amutag, Aroroy, while Brioso, 58, was the chief cowboy of 7R Ranch in Sitio Mabuaya, Brgy. Matiporon, Milagros. In Facebook posts, the family and relatives of 61-year-old Poligrates, the chief tanod of Brgy. Villahermosa, Cawayan, asserted that he was not a member of the NPA. In posts they made in the morning of June 8, when the killing of Poligrates was still uncertain, they sought the help of the public in finding Poligrates after he was reported abducted by unidentified armed men the night before.

“The police and the military’s murderous modus operandi of killing innocent civilians and branding them as slain NPA rebels should be stopped. The Absalon family’s grief and indignation cannot be shamelessly used by the government security forces to further their dirty and bloody total war against the people,“ the Karapatan official ended.