Artists call for end to Negros Oriental killings
Lorraine L. Ecarma (The Freeman) - August 19, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Cebuano artists are standing up against the "culture of impunity and bloodshed" in Negros Oriental.

In an art show called Social Volcano, artist groups—Arts and Tankard Organization (ATO), Counterflow Productions and Artista para sa Nasyonalista Demokratiko at Rebolusyonaryong Sining (ANDRES)—raised awareness on the situation in Negros through artworks, poetry and music.

The event, which turned out to be one of the largest gathering of progressive artists and performers in Cebu City, not only aimed to raise awareness but also to raise funds for an on-going campaign called Defend Negros; Stop the Attacks. It was attended by over 200 students and artists.

This was in response to the rising death toll in the island with over 87 casualties since the beginning of the Duterte administration.

Among those was activist-lawyer Benjamin Ramos. He was the legal counsel of the captured alleged insurgents Myles Albasin and the rest of Mabinay 6.

Head organizer Armand Jake Dayoha from ATO noted that the artworks featuring grotesque murders of farmers and students do not only carry the worsening situation in Negros, but also the entire country.

"The content of the works and its context present the broader concern that is defending human life, human dignity and human rights," Dayoha said.

A growing concern from youth groups, activists and artists in Cebu might lead to the declaration of Martial Law in the entire country following the brutal killings and the intensifying civil war in Negros.

"Gitan-aw nga ang mga nahitabo nga crackdown sa Negros ug sa mga provinces under MO (Memorandum Order) 32 kay mo lead gyud siya ug possible nation-wide declaration but even before that, maka feel na man ta sa defacto martial law. Without due process ug without warrant, pwede na madakpan ug mapatay," Claire Obejas from the College Editor’s Guild of the Philippines-Cebu said.

"Ang youth ug ang mga artists sa Cebu, naningkamot nga mo pakita sa dissent to prove nga wala gyud ta nauyon sa mga atake karon sa Negros ug sa tibuok nasod," she added.

In November 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte issued MO 32, which ordered the deployment of additional police and military forces to Samar, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and the Bicol Region, and intensified intelligence operations “against individuals and groups suspected of, or responsible for, committing or conspiring to commit acts of lawless violence in the Philippines.”

However, Lt. Gen. Noel Clement of the Visayas Central Command said the situation in the island is “not ripe” for the declaration of Martial Law.

"Right now, the situation there is manageable. Kaya siyang i-confront ng security forces natin. The PNP (Philippine National Police) and kami sa AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) have the armed forces in the area needed to address the entire situation there," Clement said.

Speculations of the declaration of Martial Law in Negros brewed after the declaration of MO 32. (FREEMAN)

CULTURE OF IMPUNITY AND BLOODSHED
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