This is only one of the many cases of killings during the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine.
By Reuben Pio Martinez
Human rights group KARAPATAN Timog Katagalugan condemned the shooting of barangay San Antonio, Kalayaan, Laguna captain Hon. Froilan “Kawing” Reyes last June 18, 2020.
In their statement, KARAPATAN TK revealed that Reyes, also the president of the Liga ng mga Barangay Kapitan ng Kalayaan, was shot multiple times by unknown men in a motorcycle. Reyes was in his car, near a gas station in a Brgy. Longos highway when the shooters ambushed the 48-year old. As the attackers fled to Lumban, Reyes died in Pagsanjan Medical Center not long after as doctors treated him.
KARAPATAN TK claimed that the motive for the incident is very likely to be political, highlighting how friends and supporters of Reyes can testify to his progressive advocacies for the community.
“Kung kailan higit na kailangan ang mga katulad ni Hon. Froilan Reyes para sa mas maunlad na paggampan sa mga gawain sa komunidad sa gitna ng panlipunang krisis dulot ng [COVID-19], ay doon pa siya binawian ng buhay sa kamay ng mga berdugong elemento,” the group said.
According to Brgy. San Antonio’s Facebook post, Reyes’s funeral procession is scheduled this June 26, 2020 at 5 pm, and Reyes will be buried the following day at 10a.m. His wife and two children mourned his death.
A history of violence
Several other killings similar to Reyes’ case have been reported in the hundred since the implementation of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
Such incidents were feared to take place once the Anti-Terrorism Bill would be signed into law. Under this, individuals would be branded as “terrorists” based on a vague criteria, and unconstitutional penalties would be given. Among these include warrantless arrests and wire-tapping after being released from detainment.
On March 31, 44-year-old Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Surigao del Sur peasant leader and Barangay Agrarian Reform Committee (BARC) affiliate Nora Apique was killed on her way home in Brgy. Patong, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur.
On April 30, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Panay City leader Jose Reynaldo “Jory” Porquia was shot nine times by men in masks, in Brgy. Sto, Nino, Arevalo District, Iloilo City. This was according to Lean Porquia, his son. 42 were apprehended for holding a candle-lighting ceremony in his honor. (READ: https://bit.ly/92Arrests)
On May 5, 48-year-old community radio reporter Rex Cornelio of Energy 93.7 FM was killed by gunshots in Daro, Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental. Two unidentified men also in a motorcycle killed Cornejo while he was with his wife in their own motorcycle. He was declared dead-on-arrival in Siliman University Medical Center.
On May 7, KARAPATAN Rizal secretary-general Gloria Rodriguez was illegally apprehended by local authorities in a Brgy. San Jose, Antipolo City checkpoint. This was after she, the deceased’s family, and alliance colleagues were frequently barred from recovering the body of Noel Levanta, who was tagged as an NPA affiliate in Rodriguez, Rizal. (READ: https://bit.ly/FreeKARAPATAN)
On May 28, the body of urban poor leader and Kadamay secretary general Carlito Badion was recovered on a highway in Ormoc City, Leyte. Two days prior to his death, Kadamay said Badion experienced frequent red-tagging and harassment from law-enforcement.
On June 20, Brgy. Busilelao, Echague, Isabela chairman Rogelio Sacro was also killed. This time, while riding a tricycle on his way home in Brgy. Dammang East at around noon. A price of P500,000 would be given by Echague Mayor Francis Faustino Dy to anyone who can provide information on the incident.
A state of lawlessness
The alliance Sama-samang Artista para sa Kilusang Agraryo (SAKA) reported a current total of 259 deaths during the lockdown.
SAKA blamed the controversial Memorandum Order 32 (MO 32) as among the factors to this, due to the increase in military and police activity that lead to an increase in illegal arrests. This was an attempt to curb alleged comunist activity all across the country. This was to be fulfilled under Executive Order (EO) 70.
Among these incidents include one from May 8, when elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) massacred five farmers in Bulan, Sorsogon. 9th Infantry Division and Joint Task Force Bicolandia (JTFB) commander explained that this was because the victims were allegedly linked to the New People’s Army (NPA). However, the victims, Jaime and Raymond Tañada, Jerry Palanca, Jerick Buno, and Roberto Villafuerte, were confirmed to not be linked to the organization in any way.
Regarding this, NPA Romulo Jallores Command (RJC) spokesperson Raymundo Buenfuerza added that the ammunition recovered from Bulan were planted by the soldiers, in addition to denying the suspicion. SAKA mentioned that peasant leader and Northern Samar Small Farmers Association (NSSFA) chair Allan Aguinaldo was shot multiple times in Samar two weeks after.
In Northern Samar, on June 20, elements of the AFP, the 20th Infantry Battalion (IB), and the Northern Samar Police Mobile Force Company were involved in an operation that resulted in the deaths of four individuals. Among them were Zaldy Meraya and colleague Bebe Tobino, two farmers accused of being linked to communist groups who were caught in the destruction of Meraya’s home in Brgy. Bagacay, Palapag.
Though his family survived, one of his children, daughter and League of Filipino Students member Jolina Colot, is currently in critical condition.
Prior to Meraya’s death, Judge Decoroso Turla signed a warrant to arrest Meraya for alleged attempt at murder. The 20th IB claimed that the soldiers opened fire after Meraya supposedly opened fire on them.
In a separate incident in Passi, Brgy. Mayang, Tubungan, Iloilo, which also took place on June 20, another pair of alleged communist elements were gunned down. They were Glenn Bunda and Harold Tablazon.
Brgy. Tagpuan Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson Bunda worked with the 33-year-old Federation of Iloilo Farmers Association (FIFA) organizer Tablazon, also previously charged with allegedly carrying illegal firearms last 2019, to install solar panels for a living. They were killed while riding a motorcycle together one early night. [P]