Letters: Open letter of appeal

By VIOLY MENDOZA
www.nordis.net

I am a farmer from the municipality of Benito Soliven in Isabela. I have seven (7) other siblings, all of them are farmers. Like many farmers here, we plant hybrid yellow corn to sell and raise chickens for food. And just like everyone else here, we are poor and hardly make both ends meet. Moreso, though I am a farmer, I do not own any piece of land. I am a mere tenant and so are some of my siblings. My two brothers occasionally hunt in the nearby forest to augment their income from farming. My older brother, Manong Ilyong or Rogelio, 61 yrs old, raised his seven (7) children this way.

Early Monday morning of August 28, 2017, my two beloved brothers while on their way back from hunting were mercilessly machine-gunned by elements of the 86th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). My brothers, live in Brgy Baliao, Benito Soliven but the incident happened in the remote village of Sitio Lumalog of Brgy Cadalasan which is adjacent to our village and part of the municipality of San Mariano.

The Alpha Coy of 86th IB headed by Lt Alog and Lt Canizares are responsible for the horrible untimely deaths of my brothers. The soldiers have been in the remote farming community for already one (1) week before their murderous action. The soldiers, according to local residents have taken temporary camp in a higher area very near the hut of my brothers in Sitio Lumalog.  The hut is well known to most people in the area and even to the soldiers, to be where my brothers would rest and take shelter while hunting for wild boar in the nearby forested area.

Soldiers routinely conduct military operations in the barangays of San Mariano and Benito Soliven. Most people would rather stay away from their huts and farms when soldiers are on operations because they are afraid.  But because my brothers were certain that the soldiers would leave them alone as they knew them, Manong Ilyong and Rolito went on hunting for food and something to sell later.

But my brothers were wrong. The soldiers waited for them. Carefully positioning themselves along the narrow path to their hut. In less than a minute bursts of gunfire, the cruel slaughter of my beloved brothers was over. Their bodies riddled with nearly 15 bullets from the soldiers they thought would leave them alone. One witness attested they heard Manong Roy cry out “…you are shooting civilians.” And then there was silence.  

Local people living near the site of that fateful day heard the gunfire. Fearing it could be someone they know, a local barangay official waited along the path of the soldiers asking to please see the bodies the soldiers were carrying. But the soldiers refused. Immediately there was news over the radio saying there was an encounter in a barangay of San Mariano between the AFP and the NPA. Further saying that my brothers were rebel insurgents and that they were fatally wounded in the encounter. 

They were not fatally wounded in an encounter. They were ambushed and helplessly mudered.

It is difficult for somebody dear to be killed like chickens. It is more difficult that the military and the government it serves do not seem to care for the murderous act.

Several times, elements of the 86th IB stationed in Brgy Tappa have figured in incidents violating human rights in the area. Now fear is stronger among the people like a virus that spreads quickly depriving everyone of the free air..of dreams of freedom. This is not right. So I write to seek justice for my brothers.  So that people may know and may help us and all other families like us find justice.

Justice for my brothers.
Justice for all victims of EJK. # nordis.net

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