Commission on Human Rights

AFP, PNP deny CHR-Negros access to public documents on encounter-related cases

Reymund Titong

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AFP, PNP deny CHR-Negros access to public documents on encounter-related cases
The encounters involve the death of farmers and other members of vulnerable sectors, who had been tagged as communist rebels

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has denied the Commission on Human Rights in Negros access to public records that it needs for its investigations.

CHR-Negros head Vincent Parra told Rappler in an interview on Friday, March 8, that they were denied access to documents that were essential to their cases, particularly those related to encounters where the victims are farmers and members of other vulnerable sectors, who had been labeled as communist rebels.

The CHR’s mandate is to conduct an impartial investigation of human rights violations purportedly committed by the government against the marginalized and vulnerable sectors of society.

“Indi transparent ang reports sang AFP kag PNP about deaths brought about sang alleged encounters,” he said. (The AFP and the PNP were not transparent with their reports about the deaths brought about by alleged encounters.)

Parra said the lack of cooperation of the concerned government agencies adds to the difficulties they face in their investigations.

The military has said that it will cooperate with groups conducting an independent probe into encounters in the region, but Parra said they only respected the CHR’s mandate on paper.

He wondered aloud why CHR-Negros has been denied access to the records if they were willing to cooperation in any investigation. If what they reported as encounters were legitimate, they shouldn’t be afraid, he added.

Parra said even spot reports, battle reports, and investigation reports – considered public documents – were being denied to them.

Negros Occidental, long known as the Philippines’ “social volcano” due to the yawning gap between the rich and poor and its record of injustices, has been a stronghold of Asia’s longest-running communist insurgency.

Since 2023, the military has recorded a total of 54 armed encounters that led to the killing of 37 suspected rebels and the seizure of 148 high-powered firearms.

The military has claimed a drop in the number of New People’s Army members, to 33 from 258 in 2019, following the dismantling of five guerrilla fronts in Negros Occidental.

Recorded killings

Increased military operations in Negros aimed at ending the communist insurgency in the island have also led to the entanglement of the villages of indigenous people and civilians.

On May 3, 2023, farmer Crispin Tingal was killed as government troops and communist rebels clashed in the uplands of Himamaylan to Kabankalan. Tingal was later declared by the authorities as an NPA member.

More than a month later, Billy Fausto, along with his wife Emilda and their two minor sons, were killed inside their home in Sitio Kangkiling, Barangay Buenavista in Himamaylan City. The NPAs and the military pointed fingers at each other. 

On September 21 of the same year, a tricycle driver contracted to carry four non-combatant rebels was killed in an alleged encounter with the Army’s 47th Infantry Battalion in Barangay Tabugon, Kabankalan City.

Three months after, a charcoal maker tagged as a communist rebel was killed three days after he was reported missing in Sitio Cambaga, Barangay Yao-Yao, Cauayan, Negros Occidental. 

In December, in Binalbagan town resident Braulio Tobalado, a farmer, was roused from sleep by a group of military personnel and later killed and declared a casualty in what the military described as a legitimate encounter. 

In February 2024, farmer Jose Caramihan was killed while tending his land in recent armed skirmish was recorded in Escalante City in northern Negros. Caramihan was declared a casualty along with two communist rebels belonging to the NPA’s Northern Negros Front.

Parra said that human rights violations in Negros are still widespread and has repeatedly called on the security forces to respect human rights and the rule of law at all times. 

“The right to life is one of the rights that is non-derogable; any death or violation of this right is alarming,” Parra told Rappler. –

1 comment

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  1. ET

    I suggest that CHR-Negros head Vincent Parra will file a complaint at the Office of the President. Through this, we will have documentary evidence on President Marcos Jr.’s stand concerning the CHR mandate. But I expect that he will sleep on it. If indeed he will, then sleeping on the CHR’s mandate is better than what former President Digong Duterte had done to the CHR during his term.

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