The morning of March 11, 2012 was just as any other day had been for the Tumanduk people of Tacayan, a mountain barrio in Tapaz, Capiz. Old men chewed betel nut, men and women worked the fields with some of their older children while the younger ones went to school. Most were hungry the better part of the day, but that was to be expected with the persistent rains, for there could be no harvests from their kaingins. However, a deafening explosion in the centre of the barrio shattered that afternoon this seeming quiet. A child was killed and her little sister wounded.
The six-year old girl was Rodelyn Aguirre; she was chopping firewood just outside their home while her younger sister, Roda, played nearby. Their grandfather was inside the house when he heard a whooshing sound; he rushed outside, for the people of Tacayan were not utterly new to the sound of bombs flying over their heads, but before he could call his two granddaughters, the bomb hit and exploded right before him. Rodelyn was still alive when he rushed to her, she told her grandfather to put hagonoy on her wounds because she could not do it herself. Roda was crying as shrapnel studded her body. Roda was treated of her wounds in a local hospital. Rodelyn died on the way.
Rodelyn was a smart girl, only six and already responsible, she would cook rice for her father to fill his belly when he got home after hauling bananas to town, she could care for herself and her little sister even at such a young age. Full of promise, her teacher would say, promise turned to dust, a once happy family reduce to wailing mourners at the pulling of a trigger, the trigger of an M203 grenade launcher that belongs to a Peace and Development Team of the Charlie Coy of the 61st IB. How frightening the world must have become for little Roda, full of monsters and booby-traps which reduced her sister to a bloody mass. How bleak and dark the world, how much more sorrowful for her mother and father when their children’s laughter was silenced and replaced with screams of pain, and later muffled cries of fear.On the morning of March 12 the Military Command in Camp Peralta immediately issued a statement denying anything to do with the death, saying it was an improvised explosive device being assembled by the NPA, while the soldiers in the detachment in Brgy. Tacayan quietly picked up the evidence, shrapnel, and bomb fragments, from the explosion site and brought them back to base, never to be seen again. Unbeknownst to them that some residents had all ready picked up some fragments and brought those to the police station, evidence that indicated ammunition of an M203 grenade launcher. Moreover, the police findings were just that the explosion was caused by 40mm grenade from an M203 or M79 grenade launcher. When the military found out, they swiftly changed their statement, saying this time, that there was an encounter with the NPA, and later, when nobody believed an encounter would only have one large explosion, they said that it was the grandfather who was making bombs.
The 61st IB has no humanity, they show it by the fact that they would let one of their soldiers bomb an innocent girl, and hide that murderer. They proclaim their innocence; they show it by not even lifting a finger to help the young girls’ family cross the river with their bloodied victims; they show it by mocking the Aguirre’s when they said they would fight back and have Rodelyn’s body autopsied. The Army has no honor to speak of, they prove it over and over with the crimes they commit against the people they claim to serve, with every false statement they force feed to the media and the public, with every murder of man, woman and child in the mountains of Panay. These so-called Peace and Development Teams promote only violence and thievery, they bring a culture of immorality to the barrios, seducing 15-yr-old girls and leaving their bastards to the hapless families. They have “film showings” of pornography to tempt the men, even buying whores for old men. They have no regard for the hardships of the tumanduk farmers, trampling their crops every time they have military operations. Is this how the US-Aquino regime presumes to “develop” the country? Noynoy Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan has shown its true colors. The soldiers of this reactionary regime come to the mountains not to promote peace and safeguard the people. They come to threaten the Tumanduk and steal their land, they come to abuse them and seduce their children, reduce them to frozen terror, keep them in their homes too afraid to open their windows for fear of bombs and bullets killing them and their young ones. They have no respect, no regard for the Tumanduk, their lives and the lives of their children mean no more to them than a few half-baked lies and ridiculous alibis; they did not even care enough to make their statements believable.
The Butcher Battalion has left another bloody fingerprint in the mountains of Tapaz, but instead of sowing fear, the reactionary dogs will only reap the Tumanduk people’s fury. They will find that the people they choose to demean and victimize have a long history of fight and revolution, they will find that weapons and favourable terrain does not ensure conquest, that they will be deaf and blind despite their high-tech weaponry, they will find that blood debts are not so easily forgotten. Now, more than ever, the Tumanduk people depend on their true soldiers. Now, more than ever, the call for a war front in Central Panay grows more urgent, for their will be no justice for Rodelyn, or for Charito, or for all the other victims of this fascist regime until the New People’s Army makes them pay their debts in kind and the people’s mass movement drives them away. #