Negros Occidental

PNP rejects CHR’s request for records on the killing of 6 people in Negros Occidental

Reymund Titong

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PNP rejects CHR’s request for records on the killing of 6 people in Negros Occidental

DENIED. Kabankalan City Police Station denies the request of the Commission on Human Rights -Negros for records that could play a huge part in the investigation on the killing of 6 individuals in Kabankalan City on September 21.

Photo courtesy of Kabankalan City Police Station

Vincent Parra, Commission on Human Rights - Negros chief, says police rejected his request for records, which might have made it easier for the commission to validate the information it had gleaned from media about the killing of 6 people tagged by the military as communist rebels

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – The Kabankalan City Police Station has denied the request of the Commission on Human Rights-Negros for some pertinent records on the killing of a group of six in Sitio Lubi, Barangay Tabugon, Kabankalan City, on September 21. 

Vincent Parra, Commission on Human Rights – Negros chief, told Rappler in an interview on Saturday, October 7, that the police had rejected his request asking for records, which might have made it easier for the commission to quickly validate the information it had initially gleaned from various media outlets about the killing of six people, tagged by the military as communist rebels. 

“I requested a spot or blotter report from the Kabankalan City Police Station, but they turned down the request, disregarding the fact that it was a public record,” he said.

Parra said the owner of the funeral parlor where the local government unit brought the deceased’s remains gave him information that could benefit the commission in conducting its independent investigation.

Where it all started?

On September 21, six people were killed by the Army’s 47th Infantry Battalion in an alleged clash in the upland community of Kabankalan City in the southern part of the Negros Occidental province.

Army Lieutenant Colonel J-Jay Javines, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs Office chief, tagged the six fatalities as rebels who opened fire at a group of soldiers who were responding to reports of the presence of an armed group who were allegedly extorting food.

The six fatalities were Bobby Pedro or Ka Rekoy; Mario Mullon or Ka Goring; Janice Flores or Ka Joyce, who was a medical personnel of the NPA; Alejo delos Reyes or Ka Bravo, and his wife Melissa Dela Peña or Ka Diane, who were reportedly on leave as the latter was six months pregnant; and tricycle driver Ruben Gaitan.

Ka Andrea Guerrero, spokesperson of the Armando Sumayang Jr. Command of the New People’s Army Southwest Negros Guerrilla Front (ASJC-NPA), said the group of 6 was allegedly fired at by the military troopers while onboard a motorcycle owned by Gaitan, contrary to the claims of the military. 

Guerrero claimed that five of six fatalities were non-combatant members of the NPA. Gaitan, however, was just a tricycle driver contracted by the group to transport them. 

Ruben Gaitan’s kin strongly refuted earlier claims of the military that he was an NPA member, but a worker in a sugar milling company in the city who also plies a motorcycle during his free time or after work.

Gen Gaitan, Ruben’s sister, told Rappler of their dismay at the military who tagged his brother as one of the members of the New People’s Army (NPA), and was “brutally killed.” 

Gen Gaitan said the spiel of the military calling their brother a communist rebel was a usual narrative to cover up their lapses every time they kill a civilian.

CHR-Negros backed up the assertions of Ruben’s family that he was not an NPA nor associated with them. 

The assertion was in response to the military’s claim that the kin of the slain tricycle driver was unaware of the connection to the rebel group. 

Whether in Negros Occidental or not, the military has a long list of individuals, groups, and communities in the country that they consider to be communist fronts, rebel forces, or communist-influenced – which has spawned fear and threat to the lives of the people. 

Cooperating with the investigation

Javines said the Army is currently cooperating with the ongoing investigation conducted by the CHR to prove that the troops in Kabankalan City adhered to the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) rules of engagement, the provisions of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), and the rule of law.

“We are confident and firmly believe that the said encounter was legitimate. Therefore, we are open and welcome any inquiry by independent parties, as the investigation’s results will ultimately clear and vindicate us from any allegations of human rights violations,” Javines said.

Various rights groups and individuals, including Negros bishop Gerardo Alminaza have called an independent probe into the killing of a group of 6, to uncover the truth behind the incident. 

Javines asserted the rebels killed had perpetrated various atrocities in southern Negros Occidental and were active members of the Sandatahang Yunit Propaganda (SYP) Platoon, South-Western Front (SWF), Komiteng Rehiyon-Negros, Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor (KR-NCBS) operating in the towns of Cauayan, Hinobaan, Ilog, Candoni and the cities Kabankalan and Sipalay. 

With the deaths of the six, authorities claimed the front membership was down to eight active members.

On Friday, October 6, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., visited the 3rd Infantry Division based in Jamindan town in Capiz and lauded the troops for their unwavering dedication in fulfilling their sworn duties to the country. –

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