Bishop deplores ‘escalating militarization’ of Negros

June 20, 2023 - 3:41 PM
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Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos speaks at a peace forum at the Philippine Christian University in Manila on April 20, 2023. (NCDG via CBCP News)

A Catholic bishop has condemned what he described as ‘escalating militirization’ in the central Philippine province of Negros Occidental.

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos’ comments came after the massacre of a family of four in the city of Himamaylan.

Brutally slain in their hut were Roly Fausto, 55, his wife Emelda, 50, and their two children Ben and Ravin, age 15 and 12 respectively.

The incident happened allegedly after the couple were red-tagged by the military.

“Our hearts are heavy as we witness the escalating militarization under the current administration,” Alminaza said.

He reiterated that the National Taskforce to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, set up by the government in 2018, has worsened the red-tagging and security operations against those accused of links to the leftist movement.

It “has led to the weaponization of red-tagging, armed harassment, and senseless killings,” Alminaza said.

The nation’s human rights body said there were allegations that the incident was “insurgency-related linked to the New People’s Army”.

But, according to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), other accusations point to the military.

“All possible angels will be pursued in the course of the CHR’s independent investigation,” the agency said in a statement.

The bishop called on the government “to ensure justice” for the Fausto family “and hold accountable those responsible for his heinous act”.

“As I offer my prayers for every member of the Fausto family, stand with me in the fight against injustice and the pursuit of a just and lasting peace across all sectors,” Alminaza said.