In Negros Oriental following killings:CHR opposes Martial Law
Decemay P. Padilla, Raffy T. Cabristante (The Freeman) - August 3, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Declaring Martial Law in Negros Oriental will not address the peace and order concerns the province is facing, the Commission on Human Rights - 7 said.

“If we are to be asked, we will remain steadfast in our position sa Commission on Human Rights nga Martial Law can never solve a problem like this one, like the killings in Negros Oriental,” said CHR-7 chief investigator Leo Villarino.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo has said President Rodrigo Duterte may place Negros Oriental under Martial Law following the recent killings of four policemen, a lawyer, and some local officials allegedly carried out by communist rebels.

Villarino said the government should be able to show that the police are no longer effective if it wants to declare Martial Law.

 “We have to voice out our position na we are against the imposition of Martial Law even if it’s in a limited area kay we have yet to be shown nga the police have already become ineffective sa ilang operation sa Negros and we don’t want to believe nga ingon ana siya nahitabo nga murag dili na sila kalihok nga its already time to call in the military,” Villarino said.

Villarino said placing an area under martial rule will only give birth to more problems because civil liberties of those living there will have to be suspended.

For one, government may suspend the privilege of writ of habeas corpus like what it did in Mindanao in 2017 following clashes between government troops and the terror Maute group.

The suspension of the writ means a person charged with rebellion or invasion may be arrested by government forces without a warrant from the court.

While a declaration of Martial Law does not mean government can and will abuse its power, Villarino said society should be wary.

“I do not want to say nga they will abuse the imposition of Martial Law. Ang ato lang gikahadlukan diha, ang atong mga basic rights cannot be availed of already,” he said.


What government can do without declaring Martial Law in Negros Oriental is to heighten police visibility and strengthen intelligence gathering, Villarino said.

“Well, kung dunay Martial Law, daghan na gyud kaayo ang police nga mabutang diha sa lugar or military so duna nay set-up nga mga checkpoints, mga detachment i-set up so naa na ang police visibility… so kung mahimo na without Martial Law, nganong dili man mag-put up og visibility, mga detachment in areas nga critical without need of declaring martial?” he contended.

In Congress, at least 28 representatives led by two from Negros Oriental have filed a resolution calling for an inquiry into the series of killings.

Negros Oriental Representatives Jocelyn Limkaichong (First District) and Manuel Sagarbarria (Second District) led the filing of the resolution.

The resolution asked the House committees on Public Order and Safety, Justice, and Visayas Development to open an investigation.

"The alarming death toll in a short period emphasizes the urgency to conduct a deeper and more thorough investigation into the killings," the resolution reads.


In a press conference Thursday, PRO-7 Director Debold Sinas said murder charges have been filed against at least five people allegedly behind the killings.

One person was charged with the murder of Marlon and one-year-old Marjun Ocampo in Santa Catalina, while four persons were charged in the murders of Raklin Astorias and Federico Sabejon in Siaton.

Sinas refused to comment on the possibility of a Martial rule in Negros Oriental but maintained PRO-7 is "doing its best" to solve the cases behind the killings.

Sinas on Friday went to Canlaon City in northern Negros Oriental to have a dialogue with local officials there, a week after the murders of councilor Ramon Jalandoni, Barangay Panubigan chairman Ernesto Posadas, and barangay tanod Anaciancino Rosalita.

At the Capitol in Cebu City, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia commended the police for arresting two of the three suspects in the killing of four cops in Ayungon, Negros Oriental on July 24.

The two suspects were arrested with one other man, all of whom were armed during the apprehension in Badian town on July 31.

"We will have to commend first of all our PNP region and CPPO because we were able to apprehend them," Garcia said.

She assured that Cebu remains peaceful despite the security threats in neighboring Negros Oriental. The two provinces are separated by the Tañon Strait.

Garcia said Cebu was declared insurgency free during her previous term as governor because she declared an all-out war against the New People’s Army, communists, and terrorists.

"Kay ang tinguha aning NPA is really to overthrow our government, and their putting up their own parallel government," Garcia said. — Jed Harvey M. Ondiano, CNU Intern, JMO (FREEMAN)

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