Deaths of elderly peace consultants “can only be described as cold-blooded murder”—family
“Our family deeply grieves the deaths of Agaton Topacio and his wife Eugenia Magpantay last November 25 — but more than shedding our tears in grief, our family is now left with questions that, until now, are still unanswered, and we are urgently seeking answers,” said the Topacio and Magpantay families on the killing of the couple in statement on December 1.
“What is clear for us is that their deaths are not simple deaths: they were killed in what can only be described as cold-blooded murder,” the statement said.
They repudiate the police’s claims that Topacio and Magpantay resisted arrest and engaged in a gunfight with the police that eventually led to their deaths.
“Both husband and wife are already 69 years old and are already afflicted by the physical infirmities of old age. Eugenia Magpantay is suffering from diabetes and has experienced a stroke recently, which rendered her comatose for four days, while Agaton Topacio was in pain for heart enlargement, knee injury on his anterior cruciate ligament, and frozen shoulder,” relayed the statement.
According to the couple’s family, the two have been convalescing in the past years.
The families called on the Commission on Human Rights to conduct an independent investigation into the killings of the couple and hold accountable the perpetrators and minds behind this gruesome and crime.
“Our family will seek justice,” they vowed.
Human rights group Karapatan recounted the incident as not nearly anything like an armed encounter.
According to the group, at dawn on November 25, at around 3:00 a.m., elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police from its national office and Region IV-A along with cops from the Antipolo and Angono local police reportedly raided the rented house by sickly and elderly couple Eugenia Magpantay and Agaton Topacio, both 69 years old and consultants of the NDFP to the peacetalks with the GRP, at 12 Kinglet St., Meralco Village, Angono City, Rizal.
According to reports cited by Karapatan, nearly a battalion of police operatives swooped down the couple’s house, fired towards the residence before entering, and when inside, shots were heard.
“As we extend our condolences to the family of Magpantay and Topacio, we share their view and disbelief that the death of the couple was a result of an armed engagement with the police. With their health conditions, the couple, who were roused from sleep, clearly had no capacity to fire or fight back, with hundreds of police surrounding them,” said Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Jigs Clamor.
Series of killings, arrests and legal harassment vs peace consultants
Karapatan denounced the “series of possible blatant and brazen violations of human rights and international humanitarian law against consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in the peace process.”
“[The] police report on the said incident, weaving the nanlaban narrative, is dubious and highly questionable. The same narrative was also peddled by the authorities in the killing of 70-year old NDFP peace consultant Julius Giron, who was also under medical treatment at the time of the incident at dawn on March 13 this year in Baguio City, together with Dr. Ma. Lourdes Tangco and their aide Arvie Reyes,” Clamor said.
He added “that these killings of sick and elderly peace consultants are direct violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and the Geneva Convention.”
Karapatan also cited the cases of NDFP consultants Randy Malayao and Randall Echanis, who were brutally killed.
Violation of international humanitarian law and JASIG
“In the first place, these consultants should not have become targets of killings as they should be protected under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees by both parties. Under JASIG, the filing of trumped criminal charges is also prohibited. However, the recent wrongful conviction of NDFP peace panel member Benito Tiamzon and peace consultant Wilma Tiamzon, as well as the arrest of former peace consultant Alfredo Mapano show how these agreements on human rights and international humanitarian law have been time and again violated,” Clamor said.
Clamor asserted that the criminalization of peace consultants or the crimes ascribed to them merely for their association or belief is not acceptable under the CARHRIHL.
“The murder of the couple is in brazen violation of the right to due process, the JASIG, the CARHRIHL and the international law and standards of human rights and humanitarian conduct in war. The barbaric methods used in the mass murder of so many thousands of victims in Oplan Tokhang are being employed in the anti-communist campaign of state terrorism,” said Communist Party of the Philippines Founding Chairman Jose Maria Sison and and NDFP Negotiating Panel Interim Chairperson Julie de Lima in a statement.
“We hold Duterte, his National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and PNP Chief Debold Sinas as the masterminds behind the killing of Magpantay and Topacio,” said Marco Valbuena, CPP Information officer, in a statement sent to media.
Communist purge and continuing civil war
“Duterte claims to have obtained the license from the outgoing US President Trump to apply the “Djakarta method” and go on an anti-communist killing rampage and he has also boasted of being able to renew the same license from the incoming US President Biden. By all indications, Duterte intends to stay in power as a fascist dictator beyond 2022 or install his presidential proxy by rigging the 2022 presidential elections as he did in the 2019 mid-term elections,” said Sison and de Lima.
The Jakarta method is being referred to the “US-backed anticommunist massacre of over one million Indonesian civilians in 1965”—an incident “buried” in history, where “it is illegal to tell the truth about it in Indonesia” and “most people in the United States didn’t know anything about it.” In the book ‘The Jakarta Method’ published this year, journalist Vincent Bevins reconstructed the events surrounding the killings of millions of Indonesians under the US-backed dictator Suharto who was in power for 31 years.
“The CPP pays tribute to Magpantay and Topacio for their decades of service to the revolutionary cause and service to the oppressed and exploited masses. Both were former members of the CPP Central Committee. Magpantay was also a former member of the Party Political Bureau,” said Valbuena.
Their contributions to building the Party and the New People’s Army (NPA), especially in Central Luzon, are invaluable and will never be forgotten, added Valbuena. “The fast-growing number of victims of the Duterte murder machine should alert the entire Filipino nation to further crimes that the tyrannical, traitorous, murderous, plundering and swindling regime is hell-bent on committing in order to keep his ruling clique in power. The Filipino people and their revolutionary have all the just reasons for intensifying their revolutionary struggle for national liberation and democracy against the imperialist and the local reactionaries,” said Sison and de Lima. Sarah de Leon/manilatoday.net