“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”
Isaiah 1:17 (NIV)
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) strongly condemns the massacre of the Fausto family and the slay of Crispin Tingal Jr., another farmer. We join the call for an independent and impartial investigation of the said killings. We condole with the family, friends, and relatives of Rolly, 52, and Emelda, 50 along with their two young sons, Ben, 15, and Ravin, 11, who were killed in their home in Sitio Kangkiling, Brgy. Buenavista, Himamaylan, in Negros Occidental, on June 14, 2023. No individual, particularly innocent children, deserves to be subjected to such unspeakable violence. We also offer our prayers to the family of Tingal who was reportedly killed in his house in Kabankalan City on May 3.
The Faustos were parishioners of our member church, the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI). They were sugar workers and were known to be active in their association, Baclayan, Bito, Cabagal Farmers and Farmworkers Association (BABICAFA). Tingal was a member of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), another NCCP member church.
A recent National Solidarity Mission on the massacre of the Faustos and the death of Tingal – which was joined by church people including IFI Bishop Virgilio Amihan – belie the claim of government security forces that the New People’s Army was responsible for the killings. According to the findings of the Mission, the massacre was the “culmination of a series of harassment, destruction of properties, violation of domicile, illegal search and Red-tagging that was similarly inflicted on the Tingal family who barely escaped a pattern of attacks—from Red-tagging to the massacre.” The Fausto couple even sought refuge and assistance from the IFI, seeking protection from the relentless red-tagging and harassment.
Reports indicate that military personnel have summoned and pressured community leaders, to sign resolutions denouncing the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army) and alleged front organizations in their respective barangays. These incidents reflect a disturbing pattern in the island of Negros and other parts of the country, wherein poor farmers and activists are systematically harassed and subsequently arrested or killed by state agents. The killings of the Fausto family and that of Tingal, also expose the rampant militarization plaguing the countryside, resulting in numerous violations of human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL).
Like the Fausto family, many peasant families on the island of Negros and all over the country suffer from poverty, landlessness and decades-long neglect, and even oppression from the government. When they assert their rights to land, food and life, their communities are militarized and they are red-tagged, harassed, and even killed.
The NCCP is appalled by this culture of impunity. We stand united with the IFI and the UCCP and all people of goodwill in the quest for justice for the Fausto and Tingal families in both prayer and action. We support the call for an independent and impartial investigation into the killings and an immediate end to the ongoing militarization in Negros and other parts of the Philippines.
We also urge the government to resume the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and address the roots of the armed conflict. Let us follow the prophet Isaiah’s advice to strive for a society where justice prevails, where the rights and dignity of every individual and community are respected, and where peace and justice are at hand.
26 June 2023
REV. FELIPE B. EHICAN, JR.
RT. REV. JOEL O. PORLARES
DR. GAY B. MANODON
MA. KAY CATHRINE F. ALMARIO
MS. MINNIE ANNE M. CALUB
Acting General Secretary