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ILOILO City, Philippines – Human rights groups in Panay pushed calls for justice and an end to “state terrorism” as they commemorated on Thursday, December 30, the massacre of nine Tumandok farmers and the arrest of 16 others during raids last year in Calinog, Iloilo, and Tapaz, Capiz.
In a statement, the Defend Panay Network and the Panay People’s Coalition said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) continued to return to the towns where families of the slain continue to grieve.
Soldiers and cops likewise continued to red-tag activist groups that provide support for the bereaved families, they added.
“Three hundred sixty-five days after the massacre, the families and communities of the 9 Tumandok martyrs continue to grieve, their sorrows unassuaged,” the groups said.
As of December 30, 15 of the 16 who had been arrested through search warrants were released after the said warrants were junked.
The search warrants, issued by a Manila Regional Trial Court, alleged the Tumandoks kept assorted firearms and explosives.
However, “the perpetrators of the murders were never bought to justice,” the statement said. “The AFP and the PNP continue to terrorize the IP communities with their presence and verbal threats of a repeat of the massacre.”
The groups said the Tumandok people will “remain vigilant in seeking justice for their murdered leaders [and are] determined to overcome the challenges that lie ahead, rising up from the ashes of their grief, and remembering the fighting words of their ancestors, will one day achieve justice for themselves.”
The December 30, 2020 operations in Calinog and Tapaz were led by the AFP’s 3rd Infantry Battalion and the PNP’s Criminal Investigations and Detection Group (CIDG). – Rappler.com
Joseph B.A. Marzan is a Visayas-based journalist from Iloilo City and is a recipient of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.