TALISAY CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – The gory killing of former Communist supporters Roly and Emilda Fausto and their two sons – Raben and Ben – has sparked a full confrontation between government and designated terror groups in the island.
These groups, from the underground New People’s Army to their “legal fronts” were quick to accuse the Army of the massacre but are now on the defensive after witnesses in a police probe identified an NPA unit led by an in-law of the Faustos as the one responsible for the past midnight slaughter of the four victims.
For the first time in recent years, the Provincial Task Force-End Local l Conflict headed by Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson called for a news conference here a week after the killing that has led to sharp accusations as to who killed the family that was described to be poor subsistence farmers.
The news conference came on the day a group from Manila composed of people calling itself human rights advocates came here for a supposed “fact finding mission.”
Government anti-Communist star witness Jeffrey Celiz, however, had earlier said these individuals are known “CPP urban operatives” who are part of an orchestrated campaign to blame the military for the murders and shame the Philippine government before the international community.
Himamaylan City Police chief, Lieutenant Colonel Reynante R Jomocan disclosed the findings of his probers who have secured affidavits from witnesses related to the killing.
One said the guerrilla team of the NPA was led by Fernando Hermino alias Ka Iver who is known to the victims as he is the father-in-law of Emily, one of the children of the Fausto couple.
“They were crying at the police station when they recounted what they saw,” Jomocan said during the presser.
Jomocan, in a separate interview with DNX, confirmed the senior Faustos used to support the NPA and were considered key sympathizers in the Central Negros Front 2 who provided material support to the NPA such as food and shelter.
The police had earlier said the family was often visited by “supporters” of the NPA or members of known legal fronts of the Communists claiming to be organizations of either peasants or sugarworkers.
Among those quoted in local and national news outfits are officials of the National Federation of Sugarworkers who have earlier claimed that the Faustos were being redtagged before they were killed.
Lieutenant Colonel Van Donald Almonte, however, doused the heated claims of the NPA and these “fronts” with his admission that Roly Fausto was in fact an intelligence asset since last year.
He said Roly might have decided to help government after the successive defeats of the NPA against the 94th Battalion that he heads.
Among the significant kills of the 94th were top Communist leader Rogelio Posadas, ranking cadre Ericson Acosta, and NPA regional head Juanito Magbanua, who all died in battle.
Many Red fighters have also surrendered to the 94th.
In fact, Jomocan confirmed that Roly was negotiating the surrender of his in laws – from the father, mother, and sons of his daughter’s husband who are all active Red fighters.
Prosecutor Flosemer Chris Gonzales, spokesperson of the Regional ELCAC in Western Visayas, said the case of the Faustos has shown that people in Negros “have found courage” to stand up against the rebels.
Negros island used to be one of the strongholds of the NPA and has produced some Communist cadres who have been chosen to national positions of the CPP and NPA.
Acting Army 303rd Brigade chief, Colonel Nhel Richard Patricio, vowed they will go after the killers of the Faustos while provincial police chief, Colonel Leo Pamittan, said the National Police will ensure the killers will be charged for the massacre.
Jomocan told DNX that in the end, the Fauatos were killed because Roly, the patriarch, took a stand for peace and was negotiating the surrender of more rebels.
“They were killed because they wanted peace,” he said.