BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The Army’s 3rd Infantry Division yesterday dismissed as “illogical” insinuations that it was behind the alleged death threats through a text message that named 10 activists, who are leaders of various militant groups linked by authorities to the New People’s Army.
“We find no logic in the insinuations simply because it will be very unlikely for anybody to commit a crime and warning their targets, Maj. Cenon Pancito, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs Office chief, said.
It is like saying that is beneficial for a thief to tell the houseowner that they intend to conduct robbery, Pancito said. He maintained that it has never been a practice of the Army to go after activists.
Human rights group Karapatan-Negros claimed in its social media account that its public information desk received a text message that listed names of some militants, believed to be the “next targets” of a “kill kill kill” program.
The text messages were received a day after multiple raids by authorities in Calabarzon resulted in the killing of nine activists, and the arrest of six others.
Karapatan identified those in the “next target” list as Iver Lavit of Kadamay Negros; John “Butch” Lozande, secretary-general of National Federation of Sugarcane Workers (NFSW); Ereneo Longinos, spokesperson of Bayan Negros; Clarissa Singson, secretary-general of Karapatan Negros; Christian Tuayon of the NFSW; Felipe Gelle of the September 21 Movement; and Rolando Rillo of the NFSW. However, Karapatan did not identify a certain “Alyas Tatay Ogie” and “Berting” who were also included in the list.
In another text message received on the same day, the unidentified sender also threatened Bayan Negros media liaison Julius Dagatan, husband of Clarissa Singson who was among those included in the first text message.
In a statement, Karapatan- Negros said, “The horrible crackdown in Southern Tagalog was patterned on the “Tokhang-nanlaban” style that was first executed here in Negros through Oplan Sauron that resulted in the death of six during Synchronized Enhanced Managing of Police Operations (SEMPCO) 1 and 14 in SEMPO 2 and the arrest of more than 100 farmers and activists.”
Pancito stressed that “Activism is a manifestation of our vibrant democracy”. We always subscribe to the idea of respecting the rights of all Filipino people, so long as they respect the rights of others and will not commit any acts that run contrary to existing laws, he said.
If they really believe that there is a real threat against their person, we advise them to seek the help of the government to protect them, Pancito said, as he maintained that their doors are always be open to those who feel threatened and need the services of the uniformed service, whether that of the PNP or the Philippine Army.*