Victims of Military abductions surfaced due to Writ of Amparo
Full text of the writ of Amparo can be found here

Printed copies available, email rbahaguejr [at] gmail [dot] com

Monday, May 02, 2005

Countdown ng mga Buhay sa Eastern Visayas

Below are some experiences of the people of Eastern Visayas on the Government's love for its citizens...

Kaawaan sana ng kanyang mga diyos ang pamahalaang ito.

Initial Report on the Human Rights Situation in Eastern Visayas
Updated Chronology of Events
As of April 19, 2005

10 February 2005
– Maj. Gen. Jovito S. Palparan Jr. assumed the top military post in Eastern Visayas as the commanding general of the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army based in Camp Lukban, Brgy. Maulong, Catbalogan, Samar.

18 February 2005
– Fr. Allan Caparro, IFI, the incumbent regional vice-chairperson of the Promotion of Church People’s Response in Eastern Visayas and his wife Aileen, were shot after attending a meeting of their diocese, while on their way home aboard a motorcycle at the vicinity of Brgy. Balinsasayaw, Abuyog, Leyte. The perpetrators were identified only as two men riding on a motorcycle. The couple survived the attack.

20 February 2005
– Col. Manuelito Usi through the military program entitled, “The Innovator” in radio Hot FM Catarman, threatened to put up a military encampment in front of the Bayan Muna office in Catarman, Northern Samar. He also maligned BM
Visayas’ Atty. Alfonso Cinco, and Catholic priests, Rev. Fr. Walter Cerbito and Rev. Fr. Fernando Bugtong of the PCPR-Northern Samar.

05 March 2005 – In the regular media forum “Express it at the Park” in Tacloban City, Maj. Gen. Jovito S. Palparan Jr., the newly installed commanding general of the 8th Infantry division declared openly “to put an end to anti-government rallies in Samar Island within six months.”

06 March 2005 – More than 30 soldiers in full battle gear aboard an armored personnel carrier (APC) stationed themselves in front of the Bayan Muna party-list’s provincial headquarters at Sitio Bukhasan, Brgy. Cawayan, Catarman, Northern Samar. They threatened to go inside the office because “NPA’s were inside” the Bayan Muna headquarters. They surrounded the office from 10 am and only left the area at 6 pm after several people went to the area to tell the military to leave.

07 March 2005 – Sixto Montabon, Sr. was reportedly abducted by elements of the 34th Infantry Battalion, in Brgy. Palencia, Tarangnan, Samar. He was not seen since then. His son, Sixto Montabon, Jr. is the provincial secretary-general of Anakpawis party-list in Western Samar. Meanwhile, the houses owned by Sixto’s neighbors, Fernando Congzon and Serafin Bentillo, both farmers, were allegedly burned by soldiers from the same army unit. Serafin is a member of Anakpawis party-list.

08 March 2005 – Armed military men from the 8th Infantry Division were deployed to the “forum on women’s rights” held at the Samar College in Catbalogan town in Western Samar. The said forum was hosted by Gabriela-Western Samar.

09 March 2005
– A solidarity mission to Northern Samar, headed by Rep. Teodoro CasiƱo was launched as a response to the recent spate of harassments and “climate of terror” perpetrated by the 63rd IB headed by Col. Manuelito Usi. A dialogue between the partylist rep and Col. Bernard de Luna, 803rd Brigade, mediated by Gov. Raul Daza was undertaken.

10 March 2005 – Two vans tailed the solidarity mission team from San Isidro, Northern Samar to Tacloban City. The vans were positively identified to belong to the
Military Intelligence Group (MIG).

14 March 2005 – Atty. Felidito C. Dacut, the Regional Coordinator of Bayan Muna Party list of Eastern Visayas and a long-time human rights lawyer, was shot in cold blood while on board a multi-cab traveling along Real Street in Tacloban City. He just came from a meeting from the Bayan Muna regional headquarters in Tacloban.

10 March 2005 – Two vans maliciously followed the solidarity mission team from San Isidro, Northern Samar to Tacloban City. The vans were positively identified to belong to the Military Intelligence Group (MIG) according to reliable sources.

14 March 2005
– In Tarangnan, Samar, Marvin Montabon, a local peasant was shot and killed inside his home by two (2) men wearing bonnets (suspected to be elements of the 34th IB PA). His body was burned together with his house. The incident happened at about 2:00am.

At about 8:00am, farmer Henry Montabon, saw a teenager whom he recognized as a resident of Brgy. Sinit-an, San Jorge, Samar being arrested by soldiers belonging to the 34th IBPA. The teener was carrying with him a sack of copra when arrested at the vicinity of the village store owned by Juanito Verzosa.The said teener was only freed when Brgy. Sinit-an chairman Benny Mabini went to the headquarters of the 34th IB
and asked for the boy’s release.

March 15, 2005
– Fearing for their lives, three (3) Montabon families left Barangay Palencia immediately after they had buried the remains of their kin, Marvin Montabon. They left the barrio at around 12:00 noon.

19 March 2005 – Elements of the 34th Infantry Battalion arrested Pedro Felices, a member of the local peasant organization CAPTI (Catbalogan Asosasyon han Parag-uma, Tindog para han Imo Interes). He was manhandled while undergoing tactical interrogation. He was photographed with a crucifix and was forced to
sign a paper stating he was an NPA member.

25 March 2005 – Juanito Paculaba and Joey Gacuman, also members of CAPTI were arrested by the elements of the 34th IB in Catbalogan, Samar. They were subjected
to tactical interrogation and were forced to sign documents stating they were NPAs.

27 March 2005 – Nestor Masbang, a local peasant was arrested by military men in their residence in Brgy. Parina, Jiabong, Samar. He was interrogated and subjected to

31 March 2005
– Nonario Fabella, his wife Rina (a member of the Advocates for Women’s Actions, Rights and Empowerment or AWARE, an affiliate of GABRIELA) together with their children, were abducted by armed men. These men were alleged to belong to the 34th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

05 April 2005
– Three (3) military men abducted Sonny Quebada, a farmer and resident of Brgy. San Andres (Ubos) and brought him to Camp Lukban, Maulong, Catbalogan, Samar. His whereabouts are still unknown. Another farmer identified only as a certain “Pitok” was arrested by soldiers at Brgy. San Andres (Igbaw). He was blindfolded, subjected to physical assault. It was reported that he was kept naked while undergoing tactical interrogation. He was freed afterwards.

06 April 2005
–Oscar Turla Jr., a Bayan Muna member from Catarman, suffered first-degree burns in the face when armed elements hurled Molotov bombs at Bayan Muna
headquarters in Catarman, Northern Samar. Armed men riding on motorcycles perpetrated the attack.

One of the six (6) bombs, made of kerosene-filled bottles, failed to explode. One landed near the window where Turla was sleeping. The police authorities discovered that the wick used to ignite the bombs was made out of a page of a military newspaper.

06 April 2005
- In Calbiga, Samar, an identified person was dumped along Maharlika Highway in Sitio Nulangdulang, Brgy. Canticum. The body was examined by medical personnel of the MHO of the municipality and was buried at the local Catholic Cemetery. The following day, relatives of the demised arrived from
Brgy. Canlapwas, Catbalogan to claim the body. (This incident was cited in the letter of VM Mutia to the House of Representatives).

07 April 2005
– Medith Ambida, wife of Alden Boy Ambida, Bayan Muna provincial coordinator noticed two men aboard a motorcycle. They could be armed with short firearms (from the characteristic bulk in their waists). They were suspiciously looking at the couple’s home located at Balud 1, Borongan (the provincial capital) in Eastern Samar. The couple thought the suspicious-looking men were conducting a
surveillance operation on them.

08 April 2005
– At around 11:00pm, Alden Boy Ambida heard six (6) gunshots near their house. However, he was not able to see who did the indiscriminate firing.

09 April 2005
– Alden Boy Ambida who is also the Vice-President of the Borongan Tricycle Drivers and Operators Association (BTDOA) was driving his motorcycle-for-hire when he was shot four times by a gunman aboard an XLR motorcycle at Libanan Road, Brgy. Baybay 4, Borongan, Eastern Samar. He sustained two (2) gunshots: one (1) in the chest and another in the side. He survived the attack and is now in the hospital.

09 April 2005
- In Sta. Rita, Western Samar, the rice mill owned by Shirley Bohol, the chairperson of Gabriela Women’s Party-list in Eastern Visayas was burned to ashes by unknown perpetrators.

Vice-Mayor Sandra Matrona A. Mutia of Calbiga, Samar wrote the House of Representatives citing that “[the] past few weeks, Calbiga has experienced a number of atrocious incidents that need thorough inquiry”. The local government official also cited the following incidents in the town of Calbiga: a) Punong Barangay (village chief) Diodario Nablo of Barangay Binanggaran went on hiding after elements of the Philippine Army purportedly threatened him on suspicion that he is an NPA sympathizer. The same was experienced by Punong Barangay Wilfredo Cabornay of
Brgy. Sinalangtan.

b) Hon. Ponce David, a Sangguniang Bayan (town council) member, was visited by elements of the Philippine Army for reason that he is a member of Bayan Muna. Additionally, he is suspected of being a sympathizer of the NPA because of his Bayan Muna connection.

c) Residents of Barangay No. 1 Poblacion were visited by elements of the Philippine Army and were forced to identify persons who are NPA sympathizers. Some are threatened that they will be liquidated if they fail to do so.

In the House of Representatives, Rep. Catalino Figueroa wrote President Arroyo urging her to “direct the cessation of all searches and seizures in Samar by military authorities and that these recent wave of human rights violations be investigated fully, and the perpetrators brought to justice”.

Rep Figueroa cited the incident “that certain elements of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP) under the command of Major General Jovito Palparan, Jr. have undertaken illegal searches of homes in the aforementioned town on the suspicion
that there are NPA activities in the area. The town mayor, Hon. Luzviminda L. Nacario, has also been the subject of threats and harassment as she is being
suspected as an NPA sympathizer and coddler”.

Other congressmen (except Hon. Romulado Vicencio) from the Eastern Visayas region echoed the similar appeal, “to immediately direct the investigation of this recent wave of human rights violations, that immediate interim measures be put in place, and that the perpetrators be brought to justice.”

They also sought personal audience with the president.

14 April 2005
– At about 8:00 in the morning, Alfredo Davis, a clerk of court and member of Bayan Muna-Mahaplag was killed by assailants while he was traveling with wife, Imelda in a multi-cab in Mahaplag town in Leyte province. Alfredo sustained five fatal gunshot wounds that led to his instantaneous death, while Imelda was wounded by a bullet in her hand. The perpetrators were two (2) men aboard a motorcycle.

14 April 2005
– Mr. Samuel Dote, an employee of LGU-Catbalogan and member of the Municipal Association of Catbalogan Employees (MACE) affiliate organization
of COURAGE-WS (Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees in Western Samar) was killed by assailants aboard a motorcycle in
Catbalogan, Samar.

16 April 2005
– Military elements conducted aerial bombing operations using two (2) military choppers at the boundary between the Brgy Mabini, Catarman, Northern Samar and Brgy Macatingog, Calbayog City, Samar. This incident resulted in the temporary displacement of some farmers, the destruction of a number of coconut trees, and a “landahan” (an improvised copra-drying facility).

The same scenario (aerial bombardments) took place the next day.

19 April 2005 - Another bombing incident took place between the boundary of Brgys. Palmera, Laoang and Cospay, Pambujan, Northern Samar using two (2) military choppers.

20 April 2005
– At about 9:00 in the morning, another aerial bombing incident was reported at the boundary of Brgys. Palmera, Laoang and Gibatangan, Pambujan, Northern Samar. The aerial attacks were combined with massive ground operations by military troops allegedly belonging to the 63rd IB based in Brgy Opong, Catubig, Northern Samar and headed by Col Manuelito Usi.

On the same day, reports were received that military troops conducted large routinary patrols in barangays Mabuhay, Palanit, Alegria, Salvacion (these are barangays situated along the national highway) and Happy Valley (an upland barangay located around 16 kilometers from the town proper).

An incident of physical assault of a farmer-resident of Brgy. Alegria, San Isidro was also reported. He was allegedly arrested by patrolling soldiers and brought to Brgy. Salvacion where the military detachment is located. He was reportedly manhandled by
the soldiers while undergoing tactical interrogation. (Details are to be supplied later).

A food blockade was also reported in Brgy. Happy Valley, San Isidro. The barangay is accessible only through the following modes of transportation: a motorized banca through a tributary of the Victoria river), a motorcycle ride along the deteriorated/unmaintained “logging” roads (formerly used by the San Jose Timber logging firm in the 1980s) and/or by a hike through narrow trails. The report
said that large amounts/provisions of food like rice are being blocked as the soldiers alleged them to be “rations” to the NPAs in the area.#

1. KARAPATAN Media Briefing, 26 April 2005.

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