Sunday, November 13, 2005

A Statement of Concern: Bajado/Ducalang Assassinations Condemned


Alyansa ha Pagpanalipod han Tawhanon nga Katungod ha Sinirangan Bisayas

(Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights in Eastern Visayas)



P.O. Box 204, Tacloban Central Post Office, Tacloban City, 6500 Leyte

Mobile Phone: +63915-581-3889

November 13, 2005


(An Appeal to Friends in the Media, Members of Progressive Organizations

and all Freedom-Loving Filipinos)

Dear Friends:

Warm nationalist greetings amidst this terroristic attacks committed by the state on our ranks!

We are about to observe the 57th Commemorative Year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a landmark document which had been ratified by most governments and states all over the world last December 10, 1948. The Philippine government is also a signatory to this international human rights instrument.

However, we are saddened by the fact that despite this document and other parallel human rights instruments like the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Philippine Constitution and the 1998 Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws (CARHRIHL), still civil liberties and basic rights of the people are grossly violated and disregarded. What is more alarming is the fact that armed state forces/agents are perpetrating infractions to human rights guaranteed and enshrined in these documents.

In Eastern Visayas, we have been witnesses to the stint of Brig. General Jovito S. Palparan who then assumed as commanding general of the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army based in Brgy. Maulong, Catbalogan, Western Samar who wrecked havoc on peasant communities and progressive organizations including local government units and their officials. Indiscriminately, he unleashed a terroristic campaign to curtail basic human rights – freedom of _expression, right to peaceful assembly, organization, among other politico-civil guarantees.

Our gruesome experience under Palparan puts the record of violations to 570 cases committed (the number is still surging up as claims are mounting on daily basis) – from politically motivated killings in form of massacres, assassinations, salvagings (extra-judicial killings); abductions and enforced disappearance; arbitrary arrest and detention; physical assault/mental and physical torture; divestment and destruction of properties; verbal threats to media practitioners; to sowing of the climate of terror on far-flung villages, among others.

We have estimated the violations to have the rate of eighty eight (88) cases per month, twenty (20) cases per week and three (3) cases per day.

We called on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to denounce the killings, investigate the perpetrators and bring them to the folds of the law and justice. But our cries and yells have fallen on deaf ears.

Instead, we are being threatened with a Marcosian iron fist – laws banning rallies and legitimate arenas to seek redress of grievances, curtailment of press freedom, intrusion to civil liberties in the guise of combating terrorism, etc.

We have come to believe that the government’s action and inaction spell culpability to these violations. Worse, it could mean that the Macapagal Arroyo administration officially sanctions the wide scale of repression and curtailment moves.

Immediately after Jovito Palparan was bolted out of his post and upon assumption into office of the new commanding general in the person of Major General Bonifacio Ramos, another leader was felled by bullets. Atty. Norman Bocar, regional chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan ha Sinirangan Bisayas (BAYAN-SB) and provincial tourism officer of Eastern Samar province was gunned down last September 1, 2005.

On the same date, three (3) employees of the Samar Electric Cooperative II (SAMELCO II) were massacred by armed elements near the camp of the 34th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army in Brgy. Libas, Catbalogan, Samar. Previously in June 2005, a SAMELCO II lineman was abducted and tortured by the same army unit in suspicion that he was aiding the revolutionary New People’s Army (NPA) as its courier.

Again in our region, we are again sounding the bell for us to take notice of the most recent incidents – two killings in a week – similar to what happened previously when Palparan was head of the 8th ID and that of Central Luzon when he assumed post at Fort Magsaysay.

The Killing of Bayan Muna Coordinator Jose A. Ducalang in Ormoc City

Jose A. Ducalang, a 58-year old father of three and a peace-loving citizen residing at Brgy. Ipil, Ormoc City was gunned down by two motorcycle riding men in bonnets last November 7, 2005 at about 5 o’clock in the afternoon. He just came from his work at the city agriculture office and boarded a parked pedicab which would transport him home when the incident happened.

He was the city coordinator of the progressive Bayan Muna party-list.

He sustained a lone gunshot in the abdominal region of his body and was rushed by concerned citizens to the nearby Ormoc Sugar Planter Association-Farmers’ Medical Center (OSPA-FMC). When he was still conscious, he identified the perpetrators as elements of the 19th IB PA based in Brgy. Aguiting, Kananga, Leyte that is being headed by Col. Louie Dayog. He even scribbled the characters “19IB” when asked by documenters on the identities of the assailants.

He died three (3) days later on November 10, 2005 at about 10 o’clock in the evening when his body was not able to withstand the infection brought about by the gunshot wound and its complications.

The Assassination of Former Vice Mayor Ben Bajado

Just this evening (November 13, 2005), we were informed of the tragedy to this soft-spoken man, Ben Bajado. He was also in his 50s, a prominent man in his municipality in Eastern Samar province as he was previously elected as Maydolong town’s vice-mayor in year 2001 under the banner of Bayan Muna partylist.

The informant said that he was gunned down at around 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon today in Maydolong town. He was brought immediately to Eastern Samar Provincial Hospital in the capital town of Borongan but was pronounced dead-on-arrival (DOA).

He was the provincial secretary general of the multi-sectoral group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and sat as a regional council member of Bayan-Sinirangan Bisayas. An active leader, he helped in the campaign against the ill effects of mining in Manicani and Homonhon islands in Eastern Samar province.

He was also instrumental in putting up progressive sectoral organizations like the Alyansa han mga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Samar (Alliance of Peasants in Eastern Samar or ALPAS), Katilingbanon nga Pagkaurusa para ha Nasudnon Demokrasya (Unity for National Democracy or KIND) and Kapunungan han mga Barangay Opisyales ha Sinirangan Samar (Organization of Village Officials in Eastern Samar or KAUSA).

He was also a very active council member of Alyansa ha Pagpanalipod han Tawhanon nga Katungod ha Sinirangan Samar (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights in Eastern Samar or KATUNGOD-ES) and campaigned against the militarization in the region.

Another Wave of Terrorist Attacks on Legal Organizations

The motives of the killings are clear – their involvement in progressive organizations and/or alleged connection with the revolutionary forces.

The identities of the perpetrators are remarkably in the same modus operandi (manner of execution), get-away vehicles and firearms used. They are being tolerated by the government’s inaction and still continue to enjoy impunity.

This is a total disregard to due process and rule of law under the administration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Jovito Palparan was clear on this when he said that, “at times we have to bypass the due process because we want to take this fast track” when asked regarding the counter-insurgency operations by members of the international church bodies during their Pastoral Ecumenical Delegation Visit (PEDV) to Camp Lukban in July 2005.

This is a time for us to act and collective respond. We cannot just stay and watch idly as our brethren are being killed by no other than armed state agents who have sworn duty to the Philippine flag and to the Filipino people which it represents. The elements of the military who are said to be ‘protectors of the people’ and ‘guardians of democracy’ are killing unarmed civilians and are the very agents who curtail democratic rights.

We therefore call on every freedom-loving Filipinos, all media practitioners, leaders and members of progressive and cause-oriented groups to uphold, defend and struggle for our democratic rights and civil liberties.

Let us not be cowed by the Marcosian rule that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and her minions in the military are imposing upon us.





For the Regional Secretariat and Council of KATUNGOD-Sinirangan Bisayas,

I respectfully remain,