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OB listing by the military in Northern Samar exposed

A Press Statement by KATUNGOD-Sinirangan Bisayas
October 21, 2009

A copy of an Order of Battle (OB) list was given to the National Fact Finding team who was investigating the killing of human rights advocate priest Fr. Cecilio Lucero last October 9, 2009 in Northern Samar.  An unidentified state forces asset handed over the copy of the document to one member of the team. The OB list revealed that the military listed several members and former members of legal progressive organizations in the province of Northern Samar.

The document revealed that it was a MONTHLY INTELLIGENCE SUMMARY (Period Covered 06 July 2009 - 09 August 2009) dated August 9, 2009 submitted by Cpt. Husain A. Esmael, Acting Brigade S2. It stated that the Task Group Peacemaker, from the 803rd Infantry Brigade, Philippine Army, based in Catarman, Northern Samar “was deployed to the area of Catarman” and has conducted “information drives on AFP Education and Awareness program” and from these activities, “knowledge on CT (communist-terrorist) dominated organizations and activities from some of the students and residents came out.” Because of the “activities initiated by the task group” they have “inflicted fear unto the CT dominated organizations.”

In this report, names of personalities of progressive and party-list organizations in Northern Samar were listed in the OB of the Philippine Army. The organizations listed were Gabriela, Bayan Muna and BAYAN. Included in the list is Bayan Muna Partylist member Dr. Bartolome Resuello who was ambushed-killed last April 1, 2009 in Pambujan, Northern Samar by still unidentified men while Fr. Cecilio Lucero who was also ambushed-killed last September 6, 2009 in San Jose, Northern Samar was also mentioned.

Furthermore, students of the University of Eastern Philippines (UEP) who are members of the University Student Council (USC) and also affiliated with the League of Filipino Students (LFS), and the university’s student publication who are affiliated with the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) are also included in the OB list.

The report also reflected the Task Group Peacemaker’s move in “neutralizing” some members of the LFS by talking to their parents and showing them videos like “Knowing the Enemy” which links legal progressive organizations to the revolutionary group New People’s Army (NPA).

This military intelligence report is quite alarming because names listed under the military’s OB are subjected to surveillance, especially the students, while two of the mentioned names in the list turned out dead this year. It has been experienced in the past that names that are listed in an OB experienced harassment, some were abducted, and worst, killed. This has been experienced, not only in the region but also in other parts of the country where human rights violations is rampant.

The disclosure of this military intelligence report only further proves our claims that under the government’s counter-insurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya II, members and leaders of legal progressive organizations are equated with the armed revolutionary group to justify the killings and abductions of legal personalities and other human rights violations perpetrated by the U.S.-Arroyo regime.

We must not be deceived by the lies that the Army’s 8th Infantry Division is propagating that they respect human rights because victims of military abuses and their own documents says otherwise.

The situation tells us the need for our firm resolve and unity to defend and promote human rights in order to prevent further human rights violations committed by state forces. Only through the united effort of the people of Eastern Visayas will we be able to defeat Oplan Bantay Laya II.