SEVERAL members of progressive organizations in Negros Occidental marched along the main thoroughfares of Bacolod City to commemorate International Human Rights (HR) Day.
Noli Rosales, spokesperson of Bayan Negros, said that even after the shift of power from former President Rodrigo Duterte now to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the human rights situation in Negros Island remains just as dire, if not worse.
Through “Oplan Sauron” and the passing of Memorandum Order 32, the previous Duterte regime has waged a ruthless war on the peasant masses and legal activists, turning the province into a “killing field” and a laboratory of trumped-up cases, Rosales said.
He alleged that: “the new Marcos regime seems to relish in continuing this legacy (and) not even six months into his term, there is continued ham-letting of far-off peasant communities.”
“In Himamaylan City, more than 15,000 civilians were forced to evacuate and left their homes while the Armed Forces,” Rosales said, this as the military and the rebels engaged in gun battle in November.
The militant leader also cited the case of peace consultant Ericson Acosta and peasant organizer Joseph Jimenez, who were reportedly captured alive and were later tagged as casualties in a gunfight in Kabankalan City.
The military had already emphasized earlier that the two were killed in a legitimate military operation following a pursuit against members of a communist terrorist group at the hinterland of Barangay Camansi earlier this month.
“Clearly, Marcos is set to continue focused military operation in Negros, where feudal exploitation is most concentrated and where natural resources (such as mining) are being eyed by foreign investors,” Rosales said.
He also said that Marcos is just as happy to please the despotic landlords of Negros, who continue to rob farmers of the land they till.
During their rally at the Bacolod fountain of justice, militants said they will continue to call for justice for all the victims of human rights violations, and the unconditional and immediate release of all political prisoners.
Karapatan Negros human rights group accounts more than 120 political prisoners at the various jail facilities in Negros Island alone.
“With such dire human rights situation, on top of the intensifying economic crisis and state corruption, the masses of Negros are being left without a choice but to fight back,” the statement from the group said.
It added that in the 1980s during the height of martial law, the province was dubbed a "social volcano" as dire circumstances bore fruit to a massive protest movement.
"The same is happening now: the distraught masses are awakening, and no amount of militarization and state-sanctioned attacks can curb the brewing movement towards just peace and genuine liberation," they said.