Bandillo: Justice for Antique 7


On the midnight of August 15, 2018, seven personnel and staff of NDFP-Panay were attacked and murdered by combined elements of the 301st Brigade, 61st Infantry Battalion, Antique PMF, and San Jose police in Atabay, San Jose, Antique.

The martyred revolutionaries are Felix Salditos, Eldie Labinghisa, Peter Mecenas, Karen Cagampang-Ceralvo, Liezel Bandiola, Jason Talibo and Jason Sanchez.

Revolutionaries, human rights defenders, peace activists, family and friends are distraught and enraged.

The martyred Panay 7 are all exceptional according to those who know them dearly. They are visual artists, poets, community organizers, researchers and social scientists. “They are exemplary revolutionaries, the finest sons and daughters of Panay.” said Panay NDF Spokersperson Concha Araneta.

Felix Salditos is an institution by himself. He is a prolific poet and painter, a disciple of ‘arts for the people’ and devoted artist in the service of Tumandoks and other oppressed peoples of Panay and the country. He is well-known in social media as Maya Daniel.

Eldie Labinghisa is also proletarian artist. Like Maya Daniel, he promoted arts and literature as powerful weapons of the people in achieving their national and democratic aspirations.

Both Salditos and Labinghisa believed in the powerful role of arts and literature in arousing, organizing, mobilizing and empowering the people against all forms of oppression and in the struggle against feudalism, fascism, and imperialism.

Both exemplified what people’s artists should be. Their arts must be in the service of achieving national freedom, democracy, and the advancement of the people’s war.

Peter Mecenas was a consummate revolutionary educator, propagandist, and translator. He was of the landlord origin but took a rather unconventional path. He embraced the revolution and served it the best way he could. The University of the Philippines and his fraternity UP Hamili in Iloilo paid tribute to him and declared him people’s hero.

Karen Cagampang-Ceralvo was a former youth organizer from UP. She was a member of the League of Filipino Students. She immensely contributed to the growth and consolidation of the youth sector in Panay Island.

Liezel Bandiola was a campus journalist-organizer turned revolutionary poet-writer. She used her skills not only in revolutionary propaganda work but in community organizing. Jason Talibo and Jason Sanchez, both of peasant origin, were homegrown leaders and respected community organizers.

As Concha Araneta proclaimed, “they are all outstanding comrades.” They offered their bests, their talents, skills and expertise in the service of the people. The people could not thank them more as they all gloriously served till their very last breath.

In martyrdom, there are enduring lessons to be learned and from which we draw inspiration. First, that serving the people means you give everything wholeheartedly, without reservation – intellect, talents, skills, time and resources. Walang pagpapatumpik-tumpik. Walang teka-teka.

And second, the lesson of self-sacrifice and readiness to offer lives are exemplified. We could only imagine how difficult it must be for each of them to overcome problems of revolution and personal concerns and interests that include family, health, etc. For serious revolutionaries, these must be put to heart and practice.

Violations of IHL

Indeed war is bloody as it is, but International Humanitarian Law (IHL), also known as the law of armed conflict, prescribes a set of rules that seeks to limit the excesses of armed conflict. It covers the protection of non-combatants and people who are no longer participating in the hostilities.

The Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), the first of the four substantive peace agenda agreements between the GPH and the NDFP, was formulated and mutually signed to serve as a guide in the conduct of the ongoing civil war in the country.

Antique 7 were declared as non-combatants. Provisions of IHL concerning non-combatants should have applied to them. As per initial results of investigation, both by independent human rights organizations and government agencies, there is ample evidence that they were extrajudicially executed. Not a result of a military encounter. It was obviously a massacre.

This savagery is indicative of how low this government regards human rights and international protocols. It has set aside all agreements and laws pertaining to rules of engagement between belligerent forces.

Like in the Lacub incident, which happened on Sept 3, 2014 or exactly four years ago, government forces clearly demonstrated their mercenary character and unbridled fascism. As justice is sought, this savagery must be exposed and condemned vigorously.#


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