• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The Apolinario Gatmaitan Command, New People’s Army, Negros Island Regional Operational Command (AGC-NPA) accused state forces of using the assassination of Gov. Roel Degamo as grounds to intensify military operations in Negros Island.
In a statement, rebel spokesman Ka Maoche Legislador claimed that the Armed Forces of the Philippines and National Police are heavily funded to launch a massive and violent campaign of suppression on the island against the persisting revolutionary movement, guised as a manhunt for assassins of Degamo.
Legislador also said that the arrival of 47th Infantry Battalion and a 50-member Light Reaction Company in Negros Island last month aims to augment military presence in the area, increasing the number of Philippine Army troops on the island to six battalions.
Ka Bayani Obrero, in joint statement with the Apolinario Gatmaitan Command, also claimed that militarization of Negros Island increased incidents of alleged military abuses, especially in peasant communities.
Obrero, the spokesman of National Democratic Front Negros Islands, further said that Pamplona massacre, which claimed the lives of Degamo and eight others, as well as injuries of 17 others, is part of the worsening culture of impunity that has spilled over from the Duterte regime’s Memorandum Order (MO) 32 in November 2018.
He recalled that then President Rodrigo Duterte declared a “state of lawlessness” in the Negros provinces, Samar Island and Bicol region and, by virtue of MO32, commanded the deployment of additional government troops to these areas.
Obrero further claimed that the two Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations (SEMPO) jointly implemented by police and military forces in Negros Oriental, dubbed Oplan Sauron 1 and 2, followed in December 2018 and March 2019, leading to the deaths of 20 people, mostly farmers.
“Oplan Sauron was just the beginning of a series of killings on the island under Duterte,” he said. “As it stands now, human rights violations in Negros are getting even worse under Marcos Jr.”
Contrary to military claims that many Negrosanons are asking the military to stay in Negros Island, Obrero further claimed that Negrosanons demand military troops to pull-out from the island.*