PRESS STATEMENT 07 May 2010
The brazen murder of Cresistomo “Tata Negro” Llaguno, the controversial candidate for councilor in Cebu City’s north district, has brought the sordid reality of electoral violence right at the doorstep of Cebuano electorate.
Llaguno was shot six times in broad daylight just outside the gym of Lorega-San Miguel last Tuesday. The audacity and brutality of the attack delivered a resounding slap at the police and government security forces who still have to shake off allegations of involvement in previous vigilante-style killings in this island. It shook the citizens’ remaining faith at COMELEC’s capacity to maintain a semblance of order during the polls. It pierced the much-ballyhooed bubble of tranquility Cebu politics has been projected by local kingpins to cover up the searing culture of impunity and abuse lording over the province.
Progressive candidates and party-list groups know this situation only too well. In the first place, they are ones at the receiving end of a systematic campaign of vilification, harassment and physical attacks since the start of the campaign period.
In fact, we have already documented at least 15 incidents of election-related acts of violence perpetrated by suspected government agents against perceived enemies of the state. The most recent of these attacks in Cebu was the mauling of KABATAAN party-list nominee Renil Oliva by Supt. Ariel Palcuto’s men under the direct supervision of Palcuto himself late last month. The most widespread form however is the harassment of local leaders of these candidates and groups by AFP units, the most notorious of which are the 78th and 79th Infantry Battalions.
Contrary to the declaration of the AFP-Central Command, their units are heavily engaged in partisan political activity, particularly in a series of negative publicity specifically aimed at BAYAN Muna, Anakpawis, KABATAAN and Gabriela, among others. Political allies of these groups have also received threatening letters from government agents bearing aliases “Ferdinand Morales”, “Jose Arcilla”, “Glenda Rodriguez,” and “Alfonso Paglinawan” who all claim to be with the spurious anti-communist group “National Movement for the Preservation of Democracy”. Other forms of AFP politicking are carried out through house-to-house sorties, putting up of posters and graffiti, distribution of leaflets, and overt surveillance.
As elections drew near, we expect these acts to intensify especially in militarized areas currently tagged as “hot spots”.
And it gives us no relief that those who are tasked to maintain peace and order in our polls are the very ones historically enmeshed in electoral fraud and violence.ÿ