Negros Occidental

Slain Negros couple’s daughter ‘won’t cooperate’ with authorities –  rights advocate

Reymund Titong

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Slain Negros couple’s daughter ‘won’t cooperate’ with authorities –  rights advocate

BURIAL. The coffins bearing the bodies of Roly and Emilda Fausto, and their two sons, Ben and Raben, during interment rites at the Aguisan cemetery in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, on June 18, 2023.

Reymund Titong/Rappler

Human rights advocate Pete Pico calls the latest police narrative 'a fishing expedition' and the Commission on Human Rights says the government can file murder complaints even without Emily

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – The oldest daughter of the slain couple in Himamaylan City will not cooperate with authorities who insist that the New People’s Army (NPA) killed her parents and two siblings, the Human Rights Advocates Negros (HRAN) said on Thursday, October 12.

“Emily won’t sign those documents from the police, nor will she return to Himamaylan,” Pete Pico, speaking on behalf of HRAN, told Rappler. 

Pico’s statement came two days after  Negros Occidental Provincial Police chief Leo Pamittan claimed Emily Fausto, the daughter of Billy and Emilda and sibling of minors Ben and Raben, contacted them to convey her cooperation in the filing of cases against the suspects.

Captain Arturo Margallo, Himamaylan City deputy chief of police, also told Rappler on October 12 that Emily had yet to appear at the police station to personally file criminal charges against the suspected killers.

The Fausto couple and their young sons were slain in the early hours of June 14 in Sitio Kangkiling, Barangay Buenavista, Himamaylan City.  Emily and three other siblings lived elsewhere in the upland village.

Pico said the surviving kin of the couple were in a sanctuary outside of Himamaylan that he could not disclose.

The latest police narrative, he added, was just a tactic just to extract information about the whereabouts of the surviving Fausto siblings.

“The police are doing a fishing expedition,” Pico said. 

Twists and turns

Authorities earlier said they had two witnesses who were allegedly roused from their sleep by rebels seeking guides to the Fausto residence. 

But four months after the massacre, the Philippine National Police (PNP) had yet to file murder complaints.

The NPA has denied any involvement in the Fausto killings.

Human rights groups, as well as rebels, have pointed to government soldiers as perpetrators.

In claiming Emily’s cooperation during a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) press conference on October 10, Pamittan did not explain her supposed turnaround.

Since the massacre, Emily has denied that her father was a former member of the New People’s Army (NPA), the key premise underlying the government’s claim that rebels killed her parents and siblings. 

The Philippine Army’s 94th Infantry Battalion claimed that Billy was an intelligence asset negotiating for the surrender of his in-laws and family members with the NPA.

Authorities have named Fernando Hermino, Emily’s father-in-law, as one of the suspects, claiming he is an NPA member. 

Police claimed that Hermino was one of 15 armed men who allegedly threatened one of the witnesses if he didn’t divulge where the Fausto couple lived.

But Pico pointed out, “it’s impossible for Fernando Hermino not to know the house of his daughter-in-law’s parents and have to use their neighbor to locate the house.”

“Emily cannot be expected to cooperate with the police whose investigations are based on perjured witness and NTF-ELCAC narratives,” Pico said.

The Commisision on Human Rights (CHR) in Negros Occidental earlier said the police can file charges against the suspects even without Emily as complainant.

In September, provincial CHR head Vincent Parra told SunStar Bacolod that the PNP has only filed a complaint for grave coercion, stemming from the statements of their witnesses.

Parra pointed out that Emily was not a witness to the crime because she was not in the vicinity of her parent’s house during the massacre.

CLENCHED FIST. Emily, the eldest child of the murdered Fausto couple in Himamaylan City, raises her fist while calling for justice for her parents and two siblings, who were killed in June. Reymund Titong/Rappler
Episodes of harassment

Billy and Emilda were sugar workers, farmers, and members of the Baclayan, Bito, Cabagal Farmers and Farmworkers Association (BABICAFA).

Human rights groups in Negros recorded the Fausto couple’s complaints of harassment in the year leading to the massacre.

Karapatan said Emilda, the family’s matriarch, went to the office of the September 21 Movement on May 15, to report two separate incidents of illegal search and seizure.

The first incident occurred in the middle of April  and was followed by another on May 4, 2023, when Emilda reported that she saw boot marks on their door ad their  personal belongings scattered inside the house.

The rights group said the couple also reported an illegal search on March 22, 2022, and interrogation by armed men, some in military uniform and others in civilian clothes. 

The couple said the armed men tied Billy’s neck with a belt and kicked him, forcing him to admit membership in the NPA. They then dragged him with them to find his supposed comrades. 

Pico claimed that Billy escaped from state soldiers who allegedly belonged to the Army’s 94th Infantry Battalion.

That, he said, was the reason why the soldiers wanted to kill the Fausto patriarch. 

Lieutenant Colonel Van Donald Almonte of the 94th Infantry Battalion Commander said the red-tagging of Billy was just a cover for his cooperation. – Rappler.com

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