This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.
BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Communist rebels killed Roly and Emilda Fausto and their two sons in Barangay Buenavista, Himamaylan on June 14, the chief of the Himamaylan City Police Office said on Thursday, June 22.
At a press briefing, Himamaylan Police Chief Lt. Col. Reynante Jomocan said two witnesses have issued affidavits identifying at least one member of a local New People’s Army (NPA) as a suspect in the attack that killed Roly and Emilda Fauso and their two minor sons in their Sitio Kangkiling residence.
Jomocan said the two witnesses were in the custody of the police for their safety.
Documents swiftly flashed at the briefing indicated one witness was a male neighbor in Sitio Kangkiling. He told police that suspected rebels roused him around 9 pm on June 14.
He said the group of 15 men threatened to strafe his house if he ignored them. They wanted directions to the Fausto resident, the police said, quoting the witness.
Jomocan said the witness was later able to identify one of the men from a photo line-up of suspects belonging to the NPA’s Central Negros 2 unit.
Police officials mentioned the name Herminio but they refused to elaborate, saying they were still in the process of completing documentation.
Governor Eugenio Jose “Bong” Lacson, Himamaylan Mayor Raymond Tongson, and Remegio Tuazon, a councilman of Barangay Buenavista appealed for an end to the killings.
Lacson urged communist rebels to respect the wishes of those who wish to give up armed struggle for a peaceful life.
Tuazon told reporters that the NPA had previously killed two suspected spies in the barangay.
The rebel group, he stressed, had claimed those killings, unlike the Fausto massacre.
Military and rebels have blamed each other for the massacre.
Prosecutor Flosemer Chris Gonzalez, speaking for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in Western Visayas, said they would file cases against the suspects once all documents are complete.
Gonzalez insisted that Roly was targeted because he was a former rebel turned military asset. Nobody has assigned any rank to Roly.
The farmer was killed, the prosecutor added, because he had worked for the surrender of some comrades. He had also been trying to negotiate for the surrender of other rebels, most of them supposed in-laws of his oldest daughter.
A member of the Fausto family has denied this claim and said the slain man was not an AFP nor a police asset.
Jomocan said the family of the slain farmer is under the protection of a private group.
The police, coordinating with social welfare officials, would continue reaching out to the Fausto children, he said.
Human rights groups earlier presented former complaints of harassment filed by the Fausto couple. The military claimed they were deliberately “red-tagging” the slain farmer to give cover to his activities.
The press briefing happened on the same day as a fact-finding mission to southern Negros Occidental that, however, failed to meet with the surviving Fausto kin.
In response to a Rappler tweet on the government press briefing, a member of the fact-finding team said, “People on the ground told us otherwise. Holding a press conference tomorrow @ Negros Press Club, Bacolod City.”
Some right-wing personalities had tried to urge the arrest of the fact-finding teams on grounds of obstruction of justice.
Local officials brushed off the call, saying there was no crime in the private investigation.
A social media post by the group reported being stopped at a checkpoint, where their belongings were checked before they were allowed to proceed.
Himamaylan Mayor Raymond Tongson said there had been no trouble and that the fact-finding team had paid a courtesy call at city hall.
“We said to allow them to conduct their business,” the mayor said.
“The checkpoint is normal because of our efforts to stop the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF),” he added. ASF-affected towns and cities conduct checkpoints to enforce a ban on the movement of pork and pork products across borders.
Instead of meeting with the Fausto family, the fact-finding team visited the family of Crispin Tingal, a farmer who died on May 3 as Army and rebel troops clashed in the uplands of Himamaylan to Kabankalan cities.
The military claimed he was a rebel. The victim’s wife said he was supposed to attend a seminar on the Sustainable Livelihood Program of the Department of Social Welfare Development and the City Agriculture Office of Kabankalan on the day the military reported him as a casualty.