Free Igbaras Farmers

Panay Alliance-KARAPATAN
Iloilo City, March 20, 2019

Karapatan condemns arrest of Igbaras farmers

The legitimacy and justness of the arrest of three farmers from Brgy. Mulangan, Igbaras, Iloilo on Monday are highly questionable. For the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police to misrepresent them as members of the New People’s Army involved in an armed encounter is self-serving on the part of the troopers and law-enforcers.

By all indications, Roberto Elamparo, 50, Ruperto Enar, 51 and his brother Ramon Enar, 49 are ordinary farmers trying to make a living in their farm.

That Monday, March 18, they were each tending their carabaos as they usually did early in the morning. At around 6 or 7 o’clock, by their estimate, they heard gunshots from a distance, or at least Ruperto Enar and his brother Ramon did, since Roberto Elamparo is deaf and could not hear a thing without a hearing aid.

The shooting did not sound like an encounter, because it came from one place and did not last long.

Ruperto saw army soldiers coming from the direction of the shooting. They went to a nearby house and searched inside, allegedly finding three boxes of explosive devices.

After the search, the soldiers asked Ruperto, Ramon and Roberto, who also arrived from tending his carabao at his farm, to help carry the boxes to the army truck.

To the dismay of the three farmers, they were brought to the PNP station of Igbaras, accused as members of the NPA involved in the encounter with soldiers and turned over to the police for detention.

Yesterday they were brought before the Provincial Prosecutor of Iloilo and charged with serious crimes that will warrant their prolonged imprisonment.

It is condemnable that the army and police had to make up stories to bolster the allegation that the three farmers were NPAs. The barangay chairman of Mulangan himself attested that the three were really farmers and residents of the place.

It appears that the government forces take advantage of unarmed civilians, misrepresenting them as insurgents to show victories in the war against insurgency. The civilians affected, like these three Igbaras farmers, suffer fear, loss of freedom and disruption of their already difficult life.

Reylan Vergara
Mobile No. 0907 226 4538