Human Rights Report (December 1, 2022-December 1, 2023) Special Report: The Brutal Repression of the US-Marcos Fascist Regime
This report is based on information gathered and analyzed by Ang Bayan (AB) regarding cases of human rights violations committed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP) and other armed agents of the US-Marcos regime from December 1, 2022 to December 1 this year. It describes the intensity of brutality and violence suffered by the Filipino people in the past year, under the ongoing campaign of repression and counterinsurgency by the US-Marcos regime.
AB would like to point out that many more cases in the countryside go unreported due to the difficulty of sending reports by units facing intense military operations. It also did not cover the “war on drugs” killings started by the Duterte regime and perpetuated by the current regime. This current report also does not adequately cover the many human rights violations against the Moro people that often go unreported.
In this report, AB lists and identifies the various human rights violations in each incident. It used international standards for estimating the number of victims of evacuation and militarization, and the number of children affected.
Policy of repression
In August, the US-Marcos regime publicized the new National Security Policy (NSP) for the year 2023-2028. Under the new NSP, nothing has changed in the fascist state’s intense terrorism, subservience to US imperialism and suppression of patriotic and democratic forces.
The new NSP continued to push the subordination of all aspects of society—from the economy to the environment—under the framework of “national security” that further magnifies the role of the military and security agencies in running the reactionary state. The AFP and state security forces, through the National Task Force-Elcac, continue to dominate civilian agencies and local governments down to the barangay level.
The new NSP openly calls for the implementation of measures to suppress so-called “legal fronts of the CPP-NPA-NDFP” purportedly to “stop recruitment, cut off financial support and fight propaganda.” The practice of maliciously linking activists, political opposition and ordinary citizens to the armed movement to justify violent attacks against them, went on unabated in the past year. There is a sharp increase in the number of civilian victims of enforced disappearance.
In the countryside, communities are subjected to worse militarization and occupation in the form of focused military operations and occupation in barrios under the veil of the Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP). During military operations, civilians and peasants are the main targets of violence and repression. Wanton aerial bombing, strafing and shelling of fields and mountains also endanger the lives of civilians and destroy the environment.
The regime also continued sham “localized peace talks,” which, in fact, camouflage the military’s drive to intimidate people, force civilians to “surrender” and embezzle public funds.
The state also continues to blatantly violate the rules of war, in the form of the extrajudicial killing of wounded combatants, the killing of civilians in “fake encounters” and the tormenting of entire communities during combat operations.
Human rights violations
According to Ang Bayan’s records, there were 127,386 victims of human rights violations under the US-Marcos regime in the past year. AB recorded as many as 957 cases (or more than two cases per day) of human rights violations nationwide. Recorded cases were highest in the month of March (129 cases).
There is an average of seven victims of political killings per month. One is abducted per week and two suffer torture per fortnight. AB recorded 284 victims of threats, intimidation and intimidation per day. There are at least 4,524 victims of forced evacuation and dislocation caused by the military occupation of the countryside.
Murder, frustrated killing and torture
There are at least 79 victims of political assassinations across the country in the past year. The military killed 25 while in custody. Indiscriminate firing by military forces killed 13.
Majority of the cases were committed during focused military operations (FMO) and RCSP in the communities. Contrary to AFP’s claims, almost all of the killings are fake or staged encounters, swiftly refuted by family, neighbors and even local barrio council officials. Units of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the area also promptly refute these. To justify their claim of an encounter, the remains of victims are dressed by military, weapons, ammunition and other military equipment are planted, and dragged into the mud. The military continues with the practice of photographing dead bodies to spread on social media to be feasted on by their trolls.
Most of those killed were farmers (56). Five of the victims were minors, including a 2-year-old boy. In total, 11 women, including a 6-month pregnant woman, were killed by soldiers and police. Among the victims, 22 were hors de combat (combatants not in a position to fight due to injury or illness), non-combatants or retirees from the revolutionary movement. Three cases of massacre were recorded.
In the cities, a prominent case was the murder of Jude Fernandez, a veteran organizer of the labor movement, on September 29. Police was falsely claimed that he “fought back” while being served an arrest warrant at his house in Binangonan, Rizal. Fernandez was unarmed. The crime scene investigating group report found no evidence that he “resisted.” The warrant served against him was also wrong, named for one “Oscar Dizon.” He is the fourth victim of extrajudicial killing in the labor movement under Marcos.
In the countryside, the military committed a horrific crime against activist Arthur Lucenario. He was abducted in the early hours of April 14 in the San Miguel town, Bohol and secretly detained for a month. On May 12, his dead body was dumped in Barangay Tabuan, Antequera. The AFP fabricated an encounter story to cover up their crime. His remains show marks of intense torture.
FOCUS: Kabankalan 6 Massacre
On September 21, five NPA fighters were aboard a tricycle being driven by Robin Gaitan when 47th IB soldiers opened fire at them in Sityo Lubi, Barangay Tabugon, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental. The six died instantly, including NPA medic Mellissa de la Peña (Ka Diane), who was six months pregnant at the time, and her husband, Alejo de los Reyes (Ka Bravo). The other three fighters killed were Bobby Pedro (Ka Rekoy), Mario Mullon (Ka Goring) and Janice Flores (Ka Joyce). They were unarmed but the military falsely claimed an “encounter” took place, and said weapons were “confiscated.”
The NPA refuted the 47th IB’s lies. It says the killing of five combatants incapable of fighting violates international humanitarian law. Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos, Negros Occidental emphasized that the military must ensure maximum protection of the opposing party, especially when there are civilians, as stipulated by the Martens Clause.
Ang Bayan recorded 28 cases of frustrated killings last year in Kalinga, Camarines Norte, Masbate, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Northern Samar, Surigao del Sur, Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental. Involved in these cases are operating military units, which, out of fear, shoot indiscriminately at anyone they meet in the forest or on the road.
In Bukidnon, three Lumads suffered bruises, wounds and trauma when they scurried from a sudden rain of gunfire by operating soldiers. Levi, Jemboy and another unnamed person were in the forested part of Barangay Indalasa, Malaybalay City to gather durian when soldiers encountered them on November 17. In their haste, they left behind the airgun they use for hunting. The military boasted it was “seized” in an “encounter” with an NPA unit, and refused to return it despite the tribehead’s demand.
In Masbate, three civilians who stopped by a house in Sitio Milagro, Barangay Guindawhan, Pio V. Corpus evaded an attempted killing. The 2nd IB forces rained bullets at the house before setting it on fire.
In Negros Occidental, 94th IB personnel attempted to kill the son of farmer Crispin Tingal Jr on May 3 in Sitio Paloypoy, Barangay Buenavista in Himamaylan City. The soldiers wanted to prevent him from exposing their brutal killing of his father. He escaped and dodged the butchers’ bullets.
No less than 44 suffered torture at the hands of the soldiers. Many of the victims bore the brunt of the soldiers’ ire or accused of helping the people’s army.
Arrest, abduction, and threats, pressure, and intimidation
AB recorded 77 cases of arbitrary arrest and detention in 26 provinces last year. There are at least 155 victims in these cases. Provinces with the most number of arrests and detentions are Negros Occidental (38), followed by Negros Oriental (17), Batangas (12), Kalinga (11) and Masbate (9).
Most of the victims were slapped with trumped-up charges for illegal possession of firearms and explosives, murder and attempted murder to deny them bail and extend their detention. The military does not discriminate the elderly, the sick, activists or even plain civilians in the barrio.
In Masbate, 70-year-old Dolores Rapsing-Belibit was arrested for simply being the sister of the late Jose Rapsing, martyr of the revolutionary movement, after whom the NPA-Masbate command is named. Nine military and police units raided her house in Barangay Bolo, Masbate City, Masbate on September 30. She was charged with two counts of murder, attempted murder, and other crimes.
In Bohol, joint forces of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the PNP raided the house of Adolfo Salas Sr, aged 75, also known as Tatay Opong, in Purok 5, Barangay Tubod, Candijay, Bohol around 1 a.m. on May 25. His house was searched pursuant to a warrant purportedly to search for a .45 caliber pistol, a .38 caliber pistol, several rounds of ammunition and a grenade. He is a co-founder of Humabol-KMP, the provincial chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.
According to Karapatan alliance, there are 795 political prisoners in the country of which 159 are women. Of these, 98 are sick and 78 are elderly. Eighty-four (84) of them were arrested and imprisoned under the US-Marcos regime.
FOCUS: Wastebasket cases
Facing the US-Marcos regime’s policy of mass arrests, human rights activists and groups in Batangas have scored initial victories after successive dismissals of cases against them.
The courts in November consecutively dismissed the cases filed by the 59th IB against four Southern Tagalog activists Hailey Pecayo, John Peter Garcia, Ken Rementilla and Jasmin Rubia. They were charged with violation of RA 9851 or Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and other Crimes Against Humanity and the Anti-Terror Law.
The US-Marcos regime uses the Anti-Terror Law to suppress and attack critics and opponents of its anti-people policies. In Southern Tagalog alone, at least 19 activists were charged under this law.
AB recorded 87 victims of abductions last year. Abduction cases are characterized by the state’s clear intent to deliberately hide the victims and deny their custody. Some victims were surfaced either dead after a period of disappearance, or imprisoned on trumped-up charges.
On AB’s record last year, state forces killed 18 of those they abducted. Yet to be surfaced are 10 victims of abductions in the past year. There is a total of at least 11 desaparecidos under the US-Marcos regime.
The US-Marcos regime has expanded its tactic of abducting and secretly detaining civilians, NPA fighters and revolutionaries in an attempt to “convert” them and use them for the state’s dirty war. State confidential and intelligence funds are spent for this purpose, to rent or have its so-called safe houses where victims are subjected to various forms of torture (mental, emotional and physical).
In Eastern Visayas, the 8th ID continue to detain Mariel Rebato and Monica Ogacho, along with their newborn babies. Marygrace Tambis Bicina, Renato Chokoy Rufo and three others who were abducted by the military in March 2023 are imprisoned with them in the 8th ID camp in Barangay Maulong, Catbalogan, Samar. Some of the victims were abducted by the military from their rented house in Calbayog City as early as December 2022. No charges have been filed against them but they remain imprisoned and barred from family visits. They also have no legal representation.
AB also recorded at least 103,736 victims of threats, pressure and intimidation. Prominent among the cases of harassment and intimidation are attacks on labor rights, free association and unionism. In addition, the number of victims is much higher if we include the thousands of others the military paraded and forcibly “surrendered” as members or supporters of the NPA in urban and rural areas.
FOCUS: The extraordinary courage of Jhed and Jonila
The National Task Force-Elcac and AFP were shocked at their own press conference on September 19 when Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro bravely revealed the abduction, detention, threats and coercion, contrary to the military’ false claims that they were “surrenderees.”
Tamano and Castro were abducted by military agents in Orion, Bataan on September 2. They are both environmental activists and former Bulacan State University students. According to eyewitnesses, the two struggled against armed men who forced them into a van. One even tried to climb the gate of a nearby house but was unable to escape. Only their slippers left traces of their violent abduction. Inside the van, the military introduced themselves as 70th IB surveillance agents. For 14 days, the military denied having the two in their custody.
“The truth is, the military abducted us,” Castro and Tamano boldly stated, much to the surprise of the 70th IB commander next to them. “The content of the affidavit (that we surrendered) is false because it was made and signed inside the military camp.”
Military terror in communities
Under the ambitious goal of “crushing” the revolutionary movement in the countryside or “maintaining” certain provinces as “insurgency-free,” AFP and PNP combat operations cover many communities in the countryside. It employs more than 166 military and police combat battalions in focused military operations, as well as tens of thousands of paramilitary forces.
Last year, AB recorded at least 4,524 victims of forced evacuation and dislocation. About 3,200 suffered from food and economic blockade. AFP soldiers illegally use civilian structures in populated centers where 3,356 residents are affected.
In total, AB recorded 54 cases of aerial bombing, strafing and artillery shelling in Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Aurora, Bukidnon, Cagayan, Iloilo, Kalinga, Masbate, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, Northern Samar, Samar and Oriental Mindoro.
FOCUS: Military terrorism in the Zambales Mountain Range
Military and police forces conducted non-stop focused military operations in the northern Zambales Mountain Range. The 7th ID has been conducting operations in the area since January, which have intensified in the past two months. It affects the people of Zambales, Tarlac and Western Pangasinan.
From the last week of September to the second week of October, at least one company of the 69th IB occupied and disrupted the lives of people in two barangays each in the towns of Iba and Palauig in Zambales province. During the operation, they conduct checkpoints and inspect the belongings of all who pass through. The residents can no longer hunt and make a living in the mountains.
Troops of 71st IB from Ilocos region were also augmented into the Zambales Mountain Range. It leads in the implementation of RCSP in Western Tarlac and Western Pangasinan. The unit encamps in villages and forces civilians to “surrender”. Assisted by the 3rd Mechanized IB, it evicted peasants living and cultivating in Sitio Tinabla, a community in the mountains on the border of San Jose and Mayantoc, Tarlac. It resembles a cemetery after residents were driven out by the 3rd Mechanized IB’s encampment.
Violation of the rights of women and children
The AFP and PNP spare no one in their dirty counterinsurgency war against the revolutionary movement. In various parts of the country, many children and women are affected by military operations and are brazenly targeted by the state’s armed tentacles.
Violations of children’s and women’s rights are much more serious. The United Nations General Assembly’s Declaration on the Protection of Women and Children in Emergency and Armed Conflict on December 14, 1974 particularly specified as war crimes “all forms of repression and cruel and inhuman treatment of women and children, including imprisonment, torture, shooting, mass arrests, collective punishment, destruction of dwellings and forcible eviction, committed by belligerents in the course of military operations” (Number 5).
According to AB’s records, soldiers killed five children in the past year. Many young people have been victims of forced displacement and dislocation caused by indiscriminate shooting, shelling and bombing near their communities.
FOCUS: Violence against children in Western Samar and Bukidnon
In Western Samar, 63rd IB soldiers shot dead 2-year-old Intoy, along with his grandfather Ronie Obiado, in Sityo Salvacion, San Jose de Buan, Western Samar on September 25. Obiado’s wife was able to scamper away but has not been seen since. Intoy’s parents also survived the shooting. The military falsely accused Obiado a Red fighter to cover up the crime.
In Bukidnon, the 88th IB arrested mother Charlyn Pacquio Dionson, along with her two-month-old baby, Baby Asly, on February 28 and charged her with arson. She was freed when the court dismissed the fabricated case. But eight months after this, she was arrested again and imprisoned, along with then 11-month-old Baby Asly. She was forced to “surrender” to the police at this time due to Baby Asly’s illness and difficulty breathing. They could not go to the hospital due to fear related to the case filed against her. The state is now attempting to separate the child from her, while forcing her to “cooperate” with the military.
In the past year, AB recorded five cases of rape and sexual abuse against women. These cases were recorded in Batangas, Negros Occidental and Oriental Mindoro.
In Oriental Mindoro, two women in Bongabong were raped by soldiers of the 203rd IBde and CAFGU last August. To cover up the crime and silence one of the victims, the fascists forced the family to accept a ₱30,000 payment.
In Negros Occidental, two cases of rape by soldiers of the 94th IB were reported by residents of Barangay Carabalan, Himamaylan City. The crime happened when soldiers held a dance in the barangay during the last week of August.
A thorn on peace talks
While the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) appears wanting to negotiate peace with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in the Oslo Joint Statement signed on November 23 in Oslo, Norway, there remain many obstacles and contradictory policies perpetuated by the US-Marcos regime in relation to peace.
In the past year, the Marcos regime carried out a merciless campaign of liquidation and arrest of NDFP negotiating panel consultants. Two consultants were killed, one was murdered and two were illegally arrested. Currently, at least 17 NDFP consultants remain locked up in reactionary state prisons.
Manuel Tinio. Killed on April 14. Tinio was shot seven times after being accosted while driving a motorcycle at the border of San Miguel and Ubay in Bohol.
Rogelio Posadas. Abducted on April 19 and killed on April 20. Posadas was traveling on Aranda-La Castellana Road in Hinigaran town, Negros Occidental when he was intercepted and arrested by soldiers. Soldiers falsely claimed he was killed in an encounter in Barangay Santol, Binalbagan the next day. A farmer’s organizer and the two drivers of the motorcycles they were riding were also abducted.
Ariel Badiang. Reportedly abducted on February 6. Badiang was last seen in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon where he was recovering from illness. The military has not surfaced him since.
Ruben Saluta. Arrested on January 30. Saluta, 75, is currently in jail along with his wife, Presentacion Saluta, 63, after they were arrested at their temporary residence in Doña Soledad, Barangay Labangal, General Santos City. Their companion, Yvonne Losaria, was also arrested.
Eric Casilao. Arrested on April 1. Casilao was apprehended in Malaysia while crossing towards Thailand. He is currently detained in Davao.
FIGHT FOR JUSTICE!
Justice is the united cry of the Filipino people for all the victims of human rights violations by the US-Marcos regime. Marcos must be thoroughly exposed, condemned and charged for the state’s policies of repression and terrorism. Draw and focus the anger of the masses against the Marcos regime while struggling to hold the Duterte clique accountable for its crimes against the masses during its reign.