Farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) condemned anew the South Luzon Command (SOLCOM) for orchestrating a fake memorial service for killed farmers tagged as armed rebels and spreading fake news about it. KMP National Chairperson Danilo Ramos says that “apart from faking photos of fake rebel surrenderees, the military now holds fake memorial services for fake rebels.” He further insisted that the burial assistance supposedly provided for the fake relatives must then be pocketed by soldiers for themselves. “Not content with their already huge budget allocation and salary increases, the military has even transformed the whole counterinsurgency program into a huge profiteering racket,” he added.
Yesterday, the remains of Jay-ar Mercado of BALATIK (Bigkis at Lakas ng mga Katutubo sa Timog Katagalugan), and Emerito Pinza and Romy Candor of PUMALAG (Pinagkaisang Ugnayan ng mga Magsasaka sa Laguna) were finally retrieved by their relatives.
Pinza’s and Candor’s remains were respectively found in graves under the fake names “Leo San Jose dela Cruz” and “Bipar.” With Karapatan ST, their relatives confirmed that the Police Regional Office 4A held a fake memorial service with fake relatives and attendees. In a press statement last January 31, CALABARZON PNP even claimed that they provided “burial assistance” for the families. Pinza and Candor’s families however insist that they have never been even informed by the military of the killing of their relatives. Ramos points out that funds released for the supposed burial assistance therefore did not reach their real families and must have been pocketed by fake beneficiaries if not by the soldiers themselves as some sort of cash rewards.
Ramos further comments that international humanitarian laws apply even if state forces kill actual armed rebels. “Participants in an active armed conflict cannot deny a proper burial to killed enemy combatants,” he explains, citing Rule 115 or Disposal of the Dead which states that the dead must be disposed of in a respectful manner and their graves respected and properly maintained.
“The SOLCOM has intensified its sheer barbarity and unscrupulous money-grubbing character under Gen. Antonio Parlade. We reiterate our call against this inhumane racketeering scheme of the military,” Ramos ends.
KMP said this is not the first time that the Philippine Army killed and framed a farmer as a guerilla fighter of the New People’s Army who felled in an armed encounter. Last year, elements of the 4th Infantry Battalion killed elderly farmer and local Church leader Prente “Lolo Printis” Gutierez in Calintaan, Mindoro Occidental. Gutierrez was redtagged and killed by the Philippine Army soldiers. To whitewash the murder, the 4th IBPA and the Calintaan Municipal Police Office falsely presented him as a dead armed rebel. #
(Featured image from PNP CALABARZON press statement)