March 30th marked the 3rd anniversary of the Negros Massacre, a spree of home invasions, arrests, and murders committed by state forces against local politicians, farmers, and peasant activists as a part of a joint AFP-PNP operation titled ‘Oplan Sauron’, as part of SEMPO.
In the middle of the night, fourteen people were murdered, and at least fifteen others were arrested in Negros Oriental province. Ninteen people, many of whom were barangay captains, members of labour or women’s parties, drivers, farmers or peasant activists, were greeted at or in their homes by masked and heavily armed state forces, who dragged many of them and their families out of their bedrooms or homes, and searched their houses, illegally denying the residents’ presence and without being presented a warrant. In some cases, the police robbed the victims and planted weapons on them. They arrested and imprisoned fifteen residents and shot the rest inside or near their homes, usually still close enough to their families to hear their pleas, sometimes right next to their children, their bodies taken swiftly away.
The killings were justified by the police and Duterte’s government as an operation to search for illegal firearms and to fight ‘lawless violence’. Police sources alone describe those killed as ‘hardcore rebels’ who were CPP or NPA members, ordered to fire at police.
State-perpetrated murders and forced disappearances perpetrated against farmers and peasant activists are not uncommon on Negros. CPSO mourns the murders of the fourteen farmers murdered by Duterte’s government and stands in solidarity with the surviving victims, the families of the victims, Karapatan and other Filipino activists and organizations in demanding justice for the fourteen murdered and the fifteen imprisoned and an end to violent anti-insurgency programs and the ongoing declared state of emergency on Negros.