The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas condemns the ongoing deprivation of the remains of Vilma Salabao from her relatives and loved ones. Salabao was among the five orchard workers killed by elements of the 2nd Infantry Division of the AFP and PNP Region – 4A last December 17, 2020 in Baras, Rizal. “What else does the military want with a dead body? It will be a month soon since the victims were massacred. The police won’t even let her family bid their final goodbyes to Salabao. Walang ibang idudulot itong pangho-hostage nila ng bangkay kundi labis-labis na pagpapahirap at trauma sa mga kaanak ng biktima.” KMP National Chairperson Danilo Ramos says.
KARAPATAN Southern Tagalog reported that even local government units seemed powerless in the face of commands from Captain Junard Reglos Briones of PNP-Baras. “The police insisted on excessive and baseless requirements before handing over the remains, despite the repeated appeals from Salabao’s children and relatives. We went to the offices of Rizal Governor Rebecca Ynaes, Antipolo Bishop Rev. Francisco de Leon D.D., and Baras Municipal Vice Mayor Willy Roble to no avail!” Ramos comments, “The principle of civilian control over the military is a cornerstone of democracy. Bakit dito parang walang magagawa ang sibilyang gobyerno sa utos ng pulis at militar?” The human rights group also reported that barangay officials from Baras were being forced by elements of the NTF-ELCAC to issue red-tagging declarations.
Ramos commented that AFP SOLCOM under Lt. General Antonio Parlade has repeatedly desecrated the remains of the farmers it has killed and falsely branded as rebels. “Sinimulan ni Parlade ang nakaraang taong 2020 sa pagpatay at paglapastangan din sa mga bangkay ng mga magsasaka. Tinapos niya ito sa pagmasaker at pag-hostage naman sa Baras 5,” the peasant leader says. AFP SOLCOM covers Rizal and the rest of Southern Tagalog, where KMP has documented a total of 21 peasant victims of political killings just last year.
Two peasant leaders were also illegally arrested based on planted evidence last December 26 in Atimonan, Quezon. In violation of their right to counsel among other rights, the two have since remained incommunicado even to their relatives.
“We demand the most urgent release of Salabao’s remains to let her family mourn. We demand that the Atimonan 2 be at least provided their right to counsel and due process, if not the fabricated charges against them be dropped. We call for justice for the victims of Baras 5. AFP SOLCOM Chief Parlade must be held accountable for his increasing crimes against the people!” Ramos ended.