June 22, 2023
“The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) strongly condemns the horrific massacre of the Fausto family of four, Emelda Fausto (50), Roly Fausto (52) and two sons Ben (15) and Ravin (11), in Brgy. Buenavista, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental, on June 14, 2023,” said Peter Murphy, Chairperson of the ICHRP Global Council.
According to the Himamaylan City police, their bodies sustained close-range gunshot wounds allegedly from an M16 rifle. Police said they found 53 M16 bullet shells at the crime scene.
According to a Rappler report, photos show Emelda’s body just outside the hut’s doorway, her skull shattered, and her left leg riddled with bullet wounds. The body of one boy dangled out of a separate doorway at the back. Another body was found inside the hut. Rolly’s body was found 50 metres from the hut. Neighbours reported hearing gunfire at about 10pm on June 14. The victims were found by their daughter, who lives in another house, next morning.
The Fausto family were sugar workers and active members of the Baclayan, Bito, Cabagal Farmers and Farmworkers Association (BABICAFA). Prior to their murder, the Fausto parents had been relentlessly red-tagged, and were subjected to physical and mental torture, grave coercion, and illegal searches. The Fausto family also belonged to the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), which has also been heavily red-tagged by state agents.
According to the human rights alliance Karapatan, on May 15 Emelda had reported break-ins and searches of their home to the office of the September 21 Movement in Negros Occidental. One incident was mid-April, the other on May 4.
“In the May 4, 2023 incident, Emelda reported that she saw muddy combat boot marks left on the door, giving the impression that the door had been kicked in. When they got inside, they saw that their belonging/clothes have been scattered around the house,” said Karapatan.
The May incident followed a clash that started in Barangay Buenavista on May 3 and spilled over to Kabankalan City. A farmer tagged by the military as an alleged communist rebel was killed and two soldiers wounded. Himamaylan was been in the news because of fighting that has sent thousands of residents fleeing farms and homes for safety. Buenavista figures high in the clashes that have dogged the populace.
The Fausto family massacre was allegedly committed by the 94th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), who have been sowing terror among the people in Negros. “ICHRP rejects allegations by the AFP that this crime was committed by the New People’s Army (NPA),” said Peter Murphy, based on the statement made by Karapatan.
In 2023, the 94th IB attacks began with the alleged abduction and killing of farmer Jose Gonzales in Brgy. Carabalan, Himamaylan City, on January 9. In mid-May, the 94 the IB allegedly murdered farmer Crispin Tingal Jr. in Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental.
In Kabankalan City, five farmer associations have already denounced the coercion and harassment carried out by the 94th IB. These farmer associations were summoned in their barangay to sign a resolution denouncing the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA and their alleged front organizations. Subsequently, elements of the 94th IB repeatedly approached and pressured the leaders of these farmer associations to adopt the resolution.
“ICHRP joins the growing demand for a genuine investigation of the killings and justice for the Fausto family,” said Peter Murphy.
Since President Marcos Jr. was sworn in almost a year ago, 24 farmers have been killed by state forces in Negros alone.
“We call on the Marcos Jr. administration to rescind the 2017 Memorandum Order 32 and Executive Order 70 which put Negros under virtual martial law, and set up the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict which drives the red-tagging and subsequent political killings nation-wide. We also call on the Marcos Jr. administration to repeal the 2020 Anti-Terrorism Law, which gives free rein to Executive violation of human rights,” concluded Peter Murphy.
Further comment: Peter Murphy +61 418 312 301 [email protected]