BACOLOD CITY — The National Democratic Front yesterday said the “revolutionary court” of Negros has issued arrest warrants against two Army generals and five colonels whom it held responsible for alleged extra-judicial killings in Negros.
Subject of the “arrest warrants” are Maj. Gen. Vicente Porto; Brig. Gen. Josue Gaverza; Colonels Cesar Yano, Maximo Caro and Manuel Ochotorena; and Lieutenant Colonels Ricardo Bayhon and Ramil Bitong, according to NDF-Negros spokesman Frank Fernandez.
Porto is the commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division. Gaverza and Caro used to serve as commanding officer of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, and Yano and Ochotorena of the 302nd Infantry Brigade. Bayhon and Bitong served as commanders of the 61st and 11th Infantry Battalions.
Fernandez claimed the admission of Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin that the two suspects in the June 14 killing of Bayan Muna member Benjamen Bayles in Himamaylan City, are soldiers confirms their belief that they are also behind in cases of extra-judicial killings in Negros, including that of Rene Quirante who was killed in Guihulngan on October 1.
Gazmin’s supposed admission was disclosed recently by Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares.
Militant human rights group Karapatan claimed that it has recorded 14 extrajudicial killings in Negros, including the death of Quirante, deputy secretary general of farmer’s group Kaugmon, a local affiliate of the Kilusang Magbubukid sa Pilipinas in Negros Oriental, since the Arroyo administration.
Colmenares said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has given the assurance the government will prosecute two Army soldiers apprehended for the murder of Bayles.
Colmenares said the gunmen were initially identified as Roger Bahon, 26, of Barangay Tiling, Cauayan, and Ronnie Caurino, 24, of Barangay Cayhagan, Sipalay City, Negros Occidental.
But on October 9, Col. Edilberto Suratos, Army adjutant general, issued a certification that they were Pfc. Rafael Cordova and Pfc. Reygine Luas of the 61st Infantry Battalion of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, he said.
Colmenares said extrajudicial killings under the Aquino administration still appear to be a state policy.
“There have been 16 killings in the first 100 days of Aquino…all over the country using the same modus operandi with the same kind of targets,” he said. –