Negros Island: Killing fields

THE SERIES of brutal killings in Negros Island targeting farmers, lawyers, local officials, rights defenders, educators, education workers, and even children should be condemned.

On July 25 Arthur Bayawa, 55, principal of Guihulngan Science High School, and his sister, Ardale, 49, a curriculum implementation division chief of Department of Education (DepEd) Division of Guihulngan, were shot by an unknown number of men who broke into their home. A village chief was also killed in a separate incident in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental. Later that same day, 50-year-old Reden Eleuterio, a driver and a resident of Barangay Mabato, Ayungon, Negros Oriental, was also shot dead. The day before, a lawyer was shot dead in Guihulngan City. 

In recent months, we have seen an alarming rise in the number of killings in Negros Island. Activists believe these were the results of the joint PNP and AFP internal security plan “Oplan Sauron” and under Memorandum Order No. 32 from the Palace issued in November 2018 which deployed more military troops in the island supposedly to “suppress lawless violence.” They say farmers, lawyers, human rights defenders and even workers in the education sector are being targeted – all civilians, helpless and powerless against guns and bullets. Even a one-year-old child was not spared when the assassins came for the infant’s father. 

At the very least, there must be a thorough investigation on the killings. The situation in Negros is a microcosm of the entire country under the present dispensation. EJKs have grown rampant. Is fascism and violence state policy now?

We must not allow the reign of terror in Negros. We must collectively work for a humane and just society, and hold accountable the perpetrators and instigators of injustice against the people.

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