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BACOLOD, Philippines – A daughter of the couple allegedly killed by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Himamaylan City has contacted the police and agreed to cooperate with the authorities in filing criminal complaints against the suspects.
During a news conference on Tuesday, October 10, Negros Occidental Provincial Police Director Leo Pamittan said Emily Fausto, the eldest daughter of the murdered couple, was initially reluctant to pursue the case but later showed interest in seeking justice for her parents and younger siblings, who were shot and killed in the June 14 attack in Himamaylan City.
Colonel Pamittan said the Himamaylan Police Station had already prepared the case folders containing the documents that Emily needed to sign for submission to the court.
“The eldest daughter of the Fausto couple called and she is now willing to personally file the case. She will be going to the Himamaylan City Police Station to sign the prepared case folders,” Pamittan said.
Authorities identified one of the suspects as Fernando Hermino, who the military alleges is a member of the NPA. Hermino, incidentally, is Emily’s father-in-law.
Witnesses were afraid to come forward. Authorities reported that one witness was awakened from his sleep and threatened by a group of about 15 men, who warned that they would attack his house with bullets unless he revealed the Fausto couple’s location in Sitio Kangkiling, Barangay Buenavista.
Vincent Parra, head of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Negros, said the Himamaylan police have filed charges of grave coercion against the group.
Accusations and denials
Both the military and communist rebels have traded accusations following the brutal killing of the Fausto family members.
The NPA has pointed to military forces as the perpetrators, claiming that the family had been red-tagged and subjected to military harassment before the attack.
But the military has denied the NPA’s accusations. They argue that Billy Fausto, the family patriarch, served as a military informer who encouraged his in-laws and other family members to leave the NPA’s Central Negros 2, and surrender.
Relatives of the victims, however, have asserted that Billy was neither an NPA member nor a military informer.
Major General Marion Sison, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, said the military sought the guidance of Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos City in their efforts to enhance local peace engagement on the island. He said they aim to avoid any confrontation with their fellow citizens.
Bishop Alminaza was among those who called for an investigation into an incident involving the Army’s 47th Infantry Battalion in Kabankalan City on September 21, where six individuals lost their lives.
Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Lacson, for his part, said the province was experiencing a growing momentum in the peace process, which he attributes to initiatives prioritizing the delivery of essential services, social development, and encouraging participatory programs.
Lacson expressed his sadness for the children caught in the crossfire of armed conflicts who may not fully understand the ideologies at play.
During the press conference, authorities presented a video claiming that two NPA guerrilla fronts in Negros had been disbanded, while three others were considerably weakened, leaving 53 active members and 197 firearms in their possession.
The dismantled fronts were identified as the Northern Negros Front and Central Negros Front 1, while the weakened fronts included Central Negros 2, Southeast Front, and Southwest Front, all operating under the Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros-Cebu-Bohol-Siquijor.
The military reported that communist rebels on the island had committed 51 acts of violence, resulting in the deaths of 34 civilians, five soldiers, three former rebels, four government officials, and one police officer. – Rappler.com