Killings, torture, illegal arrests, destruction of livelihood and threats to community residents perpetrated by state security forces continue to escalate in Negros Island, in central Philippines. Juanito Magbanua, Spokesperson of the Negros Island Regional Operational Command of the New People's Army condemned the state terrorism, especially the practice of tagging civilians killed as high-ranking members of the NPA.
In a statement issued on 3 August, Magbanua accused Armed Forces of the Philippines 303rd Infantry Brigade commander Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte of falsely claiming four armed encounters with the NPA in northern and central Negros Island in the month of July.
One of the “fake encounters” took place in Trinidad village, Guihulngan City in Negros Oriental on 26 July. Christina Jacolbe, who was five months pregnant, her 16-year old daughter and a relative, Rodan Montero, were killed by elements of the AFP 62nd Infantry Battalion when they indiscriminately fired at the victims’ hut. Chistina sustained six gun shot wounds. Brig. Gen. Pasaporte claimed they were NPA members killed in an armed encounter.
In a similar incident, just 100 km south of Manila, the AFP 59th Infantry Battalion killed nine-year old Kyllene Casao on 18 July when they opened fire in Guinhawa village, Taysan town in Batangas province. Kyllene and her father were on their way home when fired upon by the state security forces. Her father survived the killing but is currently missing.
The AFP prevented human rights groups from conducting an investigation into the incident. The groups, however, eventually succeeded in pushing for an independent investigation which would include advocates of children's rights and the UNICEF.
On 26 July, in Malapad na Parang village, Lobo town, also in Batangas province, Maximo Digno, a mentally-challenged person, was killed by the same AFP battalion. The soldiers claimed that Digno was an NPA killed in an armed encounter.
Meanwhile, state security forces continue the arrest campaign against activists. On 28 July, combined forces of the AFP and Philippine National Police arrested 63-year old Marites Pielago while confined in the Dr. Nilo O. Roa hospital in Naga City, Camarines Sur province. Security officials accuse her of murder and frustrated murder, in connection with an armed encounter with the NPA in 2018.
Pielago is the Bicol Region coordinator of opposition Makabayan coalition party and former congressional nominee of Bayan Muna in 2019.