“The human rights crisis in Negros has now become a tragedy. The island has become a killing field, the spike in the number of deaths is unimaginable,” Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) Bishop Allan Caparro said in an interview with the Ramento Project for Rights Defenders (RPRD).
Since 2017, the number of people killed in Negros, trapped in the government’s counter-insurgency war against communist guerrillas, have reached to 87.
Most of those killed were farmers and peasants, civil society activists, journalists, educators, lawyers, local politicians, and church workers. They were all red-baited and killed.
Rights groups and faith-based human rights organizations have pointed to the military, police and paramilitary as behind the killings.
Bishop Caparro laments that church people have also become targets of attacks. “The legionnaires of death have spilled the island with innocent blood, not sparing people of faith,” he said.
“The Diocese of Negros Oriental have already lost 7 faithful members to this day since last year,” the bishop added.
The bishop said that among those killed were the 4 farmers in Hilaitan who were shot dead by gunmen who barged into their houses in the early morning hours of December 27, 2018.
Salvador Romano, a lay church worker in Manjuyod, was ambushed by riding-in-tandem assailants on July 7. He was fatally shot while on his way home from attending the Sunday mass.
A school principal and his sister, who were part of the congregation in Hibaiyo, Guihulngan, were shot several times while asleep inside their homes on July 25.
“The killing of our 7 lay members, executed tyrannically, marks a harrowing episode in the Diocese of Negros Occidental’s fight for social justice,” Bishop Caparro said
“This is a tragedy of violence, killings and impunity. The tragic death of 87 Negrenses demand justice. In the memory of our martyred church members, we will continue the journey towards ending the ungospel situation of poverty and hunger, militarism and landlordism in Negros,” the bishop said.#