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On March 12 at four-thirty in the afternoon, seventy-year-old Emilio Santillan, a resident of Brgy del Pilar, Naujan, Oriental Mindoro, was riding home on his bicycle when a maroon van hastily exceeded him. An armed man got off the van, quickly approached the old man and gripped his left shoulder. Without a blink, the man shot the old man at his left temple. Within seconds, Emilio Santillan was dead. On the ground lay the coffee, sugar, milk, and bread he borrowed for his co-farm workers from a nearby store.
Beyond the majestic and often glamorous exhibit of the island’s sprawling richness, referred as the country’s “food basket” that boasts of native crops and beautiful sunset, resides an unsightly terror that haunts many men on the island. Behind the exciting attractiveness of the island’s mountain streaks hides the untold stories of men, women, and children caught between a raging fire of hunting and elimination. Mindoro, the seventh largest island in the country, is now home to thousands of displaced cultures, threatened lives, and screaming violations of basic human existing. Their stories must be told.
THE HUNTED EMILIO SANTILLAN, 70
According to the fact sheet released by the Alliance for the Promotion of People’s Rights - Mindoro Oriental (Karapatan-Mo), on the morning prior to Santillan’s death, a van was seen surveilling the old man’s house. Less than two hours before he was killed, neighbors allegedly saw 12 uniformed military men from the 68th Infantry Battalion trooped to the old man’s hut. The men were armed to the heel and were even carrying a machine gun.
“Parang walang tao sa bahay?” one of the soldiers told the neighbors, referring to the old man’s hut. One of the neighbors said that indeed, Santillan was not home and went somewhere with his bicycle. Ti this, another soldier confirmed that santillan owned a red bicycle.
It was already three-thirty in the afternoon when the soldiers left the place. At this point, the neighbors noticed a maroon van with two men inside circling around Santillan’s house.
At four-thirty in the afternoon, seventy-year-old Emilio Santillan lay dead on the ground, his left temple bore the mark of a bullet’s wound.
Santillan, an active member of the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Mindoro Oriental (Kasama-Mo) and a Bayan Muna (BM) local coordinator, joined the list of the victims of indiscriminate attacks against Bayan Muna members and the fourth among its members to be killed in the province since 2002.
EXPEDITO ALBARILLO, 48
On the early morning of April 8, at around five o’clock, Lorna Arbarillo was about to go out of their house and prepare for the day’s chores when eight heavily armed men suddenly appeared and ordered her to stay inside. Frightened, she quickly obeyed the intruders while more armed men surrounded their house.
At five-thirty, some of the men who were stationed outside their house started to go to a nearby hut owned by Expedito Albarillo, Lorna’s relative and neighbor. From their place, they could hear Manuela Albarillo’s, Expedito’s wife, screams.
“Bakit n’yo kami ginaganito, maawa naman kayo sa amin!” Minutes later, they saw the Albarillo couple being forcefully led away by the armed men. Aling Manuela, apparently in fear, was clutching her husband’s body while begging for mercy.
Eleanor, Expedito’s niece, tried to run towards her uncle but the men quickly pointed their guns at her. She had no choice but to stay inside their house and endure the sight of the two being dragged away from their house.
At six o’clock, Aling Lorna and her family heard gunshots and pleaded at the men to spare the Albarillo couple. They tried to run outside to summon for help but was rudely stopped by the armed men still stationed outside the house.
A few minutes later, the armed finally left their house. Once free, they hurriedly ran and looked for the couple.
About 200 meters away fro m the house, in an uphill potion of Sitio Ibuyi, Brgy Calsapa, eighbors and relatives of Expedito, Ispid to his barangay constituents, found the two dead and sprawled on the ground.
Expedito’s left eye was missing, evidently carved out by a shrp knife. His left arm dangled from his body, his right armpit mangle by a bullet wound. Expedito sustained four gunshot wounds on his left side and three more on his back. The back of his head was also severely beaten.
Manuel’s face was almost beyond recognition, a gunshot wound shaterred the left side of her neck. A bullet entered a spot just below her right eye and exited at her left armpit. Both were dead, survived by their eight children.
The Albarillo’s were both active members of Bayan Muna and other civic organizations in their area. Expedito, besides being a municipal coordinator of Bayan Muna and a member of Kasama-Mo, also held a government position as an elected barangay councilor. Manuela, on the other hand, was the leader of a local womn’s group, the Samahan ng kababaihan at San Teodoro.
The two unwillingly took the 6th and 7th place, respectively, of the growing list of Bayan Muna members being killed in the province since only this year.
But the killings of Bayan Muna members would never stop with the Albarillo couple. In fact, the next one would hit them right just a couple of blocks away from their provincial office, at the very heart of Mindoro Oriental’s poblacion.
This time though, the hunt for the hunted will come nearer, bolder, and remarkably ruthless than ever.
EDILBERTO “CHOY” NAPOLES, 26
On May 28, around six o’clock in the evening, Edilberto “Choy” Napoles and Ruel “Bitoy” Landicho boarded a tricycle in front of the provincial Bayan Muna office in Lumangbayan, Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro. They were on their way to a Bayan Council meeting where consultations regarding the invitation of Mindoro PNP Provincial Director Voltaire Calzado for a peace dialogue the nxt day was to be held.
Minutes after the two left, just two blocks away from the Bayan Muna office, two armed men on board an Enduro motorcycle gunned down Napoles and Landicho.
According to Bitoy, right after the shooting started, he turned, thinking that one of their tires had burst, and saw the two armed men on board the Enduro, one of whom had a gun pointed at them. He quickly took cover but was still hit at his right arm. Even after their tricycle had stopped, the shooting continued.
Bayan Muna staff members who heard the shootings from the office rushed to the scene and found Bitoy bloodied from a shot wound at his right arm. Another tricycle driver helped them bring Choy to a nearby hospital. Choy never made it there alive.
Edilberto “Choy” Napoles, militant leader and Bayan Muna 2nd district provincial coordinator was also the spokesperson of Bayan – Mindoro Oriental (Bayan-Mo). Ruel “Bitoy” Landicho was also a provincial coordinator for Bayan Muna in the province and member of the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya (Pamalakaya).
Choy Napoles was dead at 26, the 8th Bayan Muna member to be killed this year in a seemingly savage hunt for legitimate militant leaders and active members of the party-list Bayan Muna and other progressive organizations in the province. Back to Top
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