94th IB in Negros, butcher battalion

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The National Solidarity Mission (NSM) composed of representatives from the church, farmers, farm-workers, women, indigenous people, and youth conducted an investigation on June 24 into the Fausto Family massacre in Himamaylan, Negros Occidental.

In the June 26 press conference, the NSM reported the results of their investigation not only on the case of the massacre but also on the brutal killing of Crispin Tingal Jr., and other extrajudicial killing cases in the island of Negros.

According to NSM, these incidents are linked as they found the the pattern of grave and repeated violations of human rights against civilians in the island. In both the cases, members of the Fausto family and Tingal suffered military harrassment before being killed.

A day before the reporting, Susan Mendes was arrested. She chairs the Baclayan, Bito, Cabagal Farmers and Farmworkers Association (BABICAFA), the same organization to which the Faustos belonged. Mendes and 17 other individuals were falsely accused of murder and frustrated murder over an ambush in Kabankalan City on May 2018.

Who is the 94th IB?

The 94th IB is one of the battalions established under the Duterte regime. It consists of soldiers from 4th and 6th ID of Mindanao and 7th ID of Luzon. They were unleashed in Negros on 2018 with the declared aim of crushing the revolutionary forces in the island. Duterte also imposed martial law on this same year in the island of Negros, Bicol Region, and Eastern Visayas through Memorandum 32.

It has since perpetrated more than 150 violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Central Negros. More than 18,000 residents of Moises Padilla, Isabela, Binalbagan, Himamaylan City and Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental, and Guihulngan City, Jimalalud, Ayungon and Manjuyod in Negros Oriental suffered from military abuses. This battalion has summarily killed 34 individuals, the latest of which is the massacre of the Faustos and their 2 children.

From 2022 to the present, Lt. Col. Van Donald Almonte headed the butcher battalion. Almonte came from 303rd IB based on Negros Occidental. He is notorious for deceitful schemes like sending letters to residents of Barangay Buenavista last month pretending to be pro-people and promoting peace.

The number of cases of threats and intimidation of 94th IB against civilians continues to rise. There is outright militarization, enforced surrenders, illegal arrests, destruction of properties, abduction, and fabrication of lies to justify spending millions of pesos of people’s money for the military.

Other important cases

The despicable crimes of the battalion include Oplan Sauron that began on March 2019 as the second in the series of Simultaneous Enhanced Managing of Police Operations (SEMPO) in Negros on 2019. Fourteen were killed while twelve were arrested under this “oplan”.

It is also notorious for the abduction of a few months-old infant of an alleged “NPA child” on November 2020.

Victims of the battalion are primarily civilian farmers. In one incident on January, they murdered 49-year old farmer Jose Gonzalez in Himamaylan City on suspicion that he is a member of the New People’s Army.

They are also notorious for destroying and burning houses and property of poor peasants suspected of being NPA members. On February 2019, they burned the house of Arlene Pausal, a month after a tactical offensive was mounted by the NPA in Barangay Banwage, Guihulngan City.

Left and right, infrastracture projects are being constructed purportedly for faster delivery of products directly to the markets. These include construction of the 222.8 kilometer by six meters wide road in the town of Candoni which will connect Kabankalan to hinterlands of Ilog and drill through Barangays Tapi and Magballo.

Meanwhile, a similar project worth ₱160 million will be constructed in eight “insurgency free” declared barangays in Isabela, Negros Occidental. These are part of preparations for the entry of mining, energy, and ecotourism companies in the interior part of the province.

94th IB in Negros, butcher battalion