This letter was originally sent to President Marcos Jr. and the Malacañang Palace via email by ICHRP Canada on June 22, 2023.
22 June 2023
AN OPEN LETTER
To President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr
RE: The massacre of the Fausto family
The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP-Canada) joins Filipino human rights defenders, peace advocates and the international community in strongly condemning the brutal massacre of the Fausto family – Rolly Fausto, 55, his wife Emelda, 50, their children Ben, 15 and Ravin, 12 in their home in Sitio Kangkiling, Brgy. Buenavista, Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental on June 14, 2023. We mourn the horrifying deaths and stand in solidarity with the peace-loving peasant community.
Rolly and Emelda were active members of the Baclayan-Bito-Cabagal Farmers and Farmworkers Association (BABICAFA), an organization of agricultural workers registered with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and accredited by the Himamaylan city government. The Fausto family is also a church member of Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), whose members have frequently been red-tagged.
Human rights groups in Negros, including Karapatan, have alleged that the 94th Infantry Battalion is behind the heinous massacre. Though the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have denied wrongdoing, local groups report that Rolly and Emelda Fausto had faced instances of harassment since March 22, 2022, when they were first interrogated, accused of being supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA), and had their farm ransacked by armed men in military and civilian clothes.
We reiterate the dangers of red-tagging and how it violates the freedom of association. Though the government denies institutional red-tagging, there are numerous similar reports of farmers being intimidated by state forces. In either case, the implementation of Executive Order 70, and anti-people policies such as Memorandum Order 32 and the Anti-Terror Law have led to increasing militarization of peasant communities and continues to sanction assassinations of unarmed activists, peasants and human rights defenders. It allows egregious violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) to take place while the root causes of the civil war remain unaddressed. At least twenty-one (21) peasants have become victims of extrajudicial killings since the beginning of your administration.
Mr. President, we call on your government to:
1. Hold an impartial and independent investigation into the Fausto Massacre and human rights violations in Negros Island. The investigation must be thorough and transparent and hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions.
2. Ensure the safety and protection of human rights defenders, community leaders and vulnerable populations in Negros Island. They should be able to carry out their work without fear of reprisals, harassment, or violence.
3. Observe and enforce the international humanitarian law and standards and the implementation of effective mechanisms to prevent, address, and remedy human rights violations in Negros Island.
Thank you and we look forward to your immediate attention and action on this case.
Rev. Dr. Patricia Lisson
Chairperson, ICHRP Canada