Negros Occidental

Activists call on CHR to assert authority as it probes Negros killings

Reymund Titong

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Activists call on CHR to assert authority as it probes Negros killings

MASSACRE. A family weeps during the funeral of the Fausto couple and their two children in Himamaylan City in this June 2023 photo.

Reymund Titong/Rappler

The human rights group Karapatan expresses concern about what it calls the lack of cooperation from the military and police in the CHR investigation

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – A group of activists called on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Wednesday, March 14, to assert its authority as it looks into the cases of human rights violations purportedly committed by the state forces in Negros Island.

In a letter addressed to the CHR, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay expressed their concern about what she called the lack of transparency of both the military and police, a concern previously raised by CHR-Negros head Vincent Parra.

“We share the questions raised by Mr. Parra as we express our utmost concern on the lack of transparency by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police on the public documents needed by the CHR in pursuing investigations on these cases,” Palabay said.

Palabay urged the CHR to uphold the commission’s independent role under the 1987 Constitution, amid acts seen as undermining the CHR’s mandate.

The group was prompted by an earlier report that showed the military expressing willingness to cooperate with the CHR’s investigations on encounter-related cases involving the deaths of farmers and other vulnerable community members. Yet, Karapatan said, the military withheld public documents that would have aided the commission in its investigations.

CHR-Negros head Vincent Parra earlier said that “the AFP and the PNP were not transparent with their reports about the deaths brought about by alleged encounters.” 

In Negros Island, Karapatan has documented 94 extrajudicial killings from July 2016 to June 2023. These include the massacre of four members of the Fausto family in June 2023 in Himamaylan City, and the killing in February 2024 of farmer Jose Caramihan. The farmer was allegedly killed by soldiers while he was tending his fields and later labeled by the military a New People’s Army (NPA) rebel.

“The AFP and PNP’s sorry conduct is adding fuel to well-founded suspicions that they are hellbent on preventing the truth from coming out and are complicit in promoting the climate of impunity that has impeded justice and accountability for so long,” Palabay said.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Advocate Negros (HRAN) spokesman Pete Pico told Rappler on Wednesday that the military’s lack of cooperation prevents the CHR from performing its job effectively.

Pico said HRAN “laments the reality on the ground that CHR is a lame duck in pursuing its task because of institutional prohibitions by police and AFP to its investigations.” –

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