Human rights organization Karapatan called on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to launch an independent investigation into the killing of Roly and Emelda Fausto and their two minor sons, Ben and Ravin Fausto. The Fausto family was found shot dead in their home in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental province on June 14, 2023. Only their daughter, Emily Fausto, and three other siblings were not present at the time and survived the attack.
Negros is a known scene of violent clashes between the Philippine military and the New People’s Army (NPA), which has led an armed communist insurgency in the Philippines for 50 years. The Fausto family massacre joins the ongoing militarization and violence against agricultural workers, killings, and impunity on Negros Island – which has been driven primarily by the 2018 Executive Order No. 70 and Memorandum Order No. 32 both issued to end the communist insurgency in the country.
According to police reports, 15 armed men were involved in the murder of the Fausto family. So far, the perpetrators of the killings have yet to be identified. Human rights groups Karapatan and Defend Panay Network accuse the Philippine military of being responsible for the massacre. Spokesman of the Negros Occidental Regional Police Office, Judesses Catalago, said a witness statement identified Emily Fausto’s father-in-law as a leader of the NPA, linking the case to the NPA. The NPA, on the other hand, sees the Philippine military responsible for the massacre. Both sides condemned the killings. Local relatives and supporters of the murdered family, however, denied the local presence of NPA forces and reported increased militarization and so-called “red-tagging” incidents (i.e., falsely accusing them of being involved in the communist insurgency).
According to Karapatan, Emilda and Roly worked as sugarcane agricultural workers. Emelda Fausto was active in the local agricultural organization Baclayan, Bito, Cabagal Farmers Association (BABICAFA). The Fausto couple previously reported “red-tagging” threats from the military, assaults, as well as burglaries in their home. According to a statement from Defend Panay Network, they were often harassed by government soldiers. The soldiers tried to pressure the Faustos to confess their alleged support for the Communist Party of the Philippines, the NPA, and the National Democratic Front.
The CHR in Negros Occidental confirmed to launch a series of investigations into the Fausto family murder case and had already conducted an investigation in the village and surrounding municipalities.
Photo © Raffy Lerma