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Bayan Muna leader Killed in Sorsogon, Bicol Region, Philippines

by PESANTE-USA Saturday, Dec. 23, 2006 at 1:58 PM 213-241-0906 337 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

Another BAYAN MUNA activist was killed yesterday morning—the third in Sorsogon province in the Bicol Region, Southern Luzon in two weeks—and the manner of his death was particularly brutal. Francisco Bantog, provincial chair of the militant party-list group Bayan Muna in Sorsogon, was shot 20 times by yet unidentified men in Barangay Dancalan in Donsol town, news sources in Bicol reported.

Bayan Muna leader Killed in Sorsogon, Bicol Region, Philippines

Manila —Another BAYAN MUNA activist was killed yesterday morning—the third in Sorsogon province in the Bicol Region, Southern Luzon in two weeks—and the manner of his death was particularly brutal.

Francisco Bantog, provincial chair of the militant party-list group Bayan Muna in Sorsogon, was shot 20 times by yet unidentified men in Barangay Dancalan in Donsol town, news sources in Bicol reported.

Donsol is known for the whale sharks (butanding) that gather in its waters at certain times of the year, drawing both local and foreign tourists.

Bantog was a butanding interaction officer (BIO), whose duty is to guide tourists wanting to see the whale sharks up close and ensure that the gentle creatures are not harmed.

The town police chief, Chief Insp. Jigo Lopez, said three gunmen in helmets attacked Bantog at around 10 a.m. at the Donsol Tourism Office, which is barely 300 meters from the headquarters of the tourist police.

Bantog was with three other BIOs when the assailants struck, Lopez said, quoting eyewitnesses.

He said the gunmen fled on Bantog’s motorcycle after the shooting.

Lopez said police investigators were preparing to take the statements of three witnesses to the killing.

He said .45 cal. bullet shells had been recovered from the crime scene.

Bantog was the third militant leader killed in the province by gunmen in just two weeks.

Bantay Laya II

The other two, Cris Frivaldo and lawyer Gil Gojol, were gunned down separately in the towns of Irosin and Gubat.

In Manila, Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano said more bloodshed should be expected following President Macapagal-Arroyo’s approval of the internal security master plan called “Oplan Bantay Laya II.”

According to the militant party-list lawmaker, the new military counterinsurgency offensive would institutionalize retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan’s strategy of “urban militarization.”

He said Oplan Bantay Laya II would eventually bring the political killings to urban centers as part of Ms Arroyo’s goal of ending the communist insurgency by 2010, when her term ends.

“All previous campaign plans of the Armed Forces failed because they were anchored on the military mind-set to catch the fish by totally draining the water,” said Mariano, a member of the House committees on national defense and on human rights, and a cofounder of the militant farmers’ alliance Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

“In other words, [the strategy is] directed against civilians. Ms Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya II is bound to fail, too,” he told the Inquirer.

Death squads

Mariano said part of the urban militarization earlier introduced by Palparan in Central Luzon was the “retention of death squads” believed responsible for about 800 victims of extrajudicial killings since 2001.

In Central Luzon, Palparan experimented on bringing counterinsurgency to the urban centers, militarizing in the process the cities of San Fernando and Angeles in Pampanga, San Jose in Nueva Ecija, Tarlac in Tarlac, and Malolos in Bulacan, according to Mariano.

“Where Oplan Bantay Laya I primarily victimized the peasantry, Oplan Bantay Laya II will victimize anyone. Nobody is safe anymore,” the lawmaker warned.

He cited reports from Anakpawis-National Capital Region that on Nov. 7, two platoons from the Army’s 202nd Infantry Brigade were deployed in seven barangays in Pandacan, Manila.

“This is what General Esperon meant when he mentioned a ‘holistic approach’ [to counterinsurgency],” Mariano said, adding:

“In the wake of heightening political killings and repression, it is high time for Congress to safeguard and uphold human rights and assess and scrutinize the Arroyo government’s counterinsurgency program. We demand an all-out inquiry into the AFP’s 2007-2010 internal security operation plan.”

Fascist ‘Butcher’- General Palparan

Mariano issued the reminder that wherever Palparan got assigned, the number of killings involving leftist activists escalated.

As a colonel and later brigadier general, Palparan headed the Army’s 204th Infantry Brigade based in Oriental Mindoro from 2001 to 2004.

He was labeled the “Butcher of Mindoro,” but had repeatedly denied involvement in the killings.

Before Palparan retired in September, the human rights group Karapatan reported 326 cases of human rights violations, including about 80 killings, under his watch. Palparan is now a special security adviser under the Department of Justice (DOJ).

He was reported heading deaths quads in the national capital region of Manila where the center of the national government and the presidential palace is located.


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