SLAIN UCCP PASTOR WAS HOLDING HIS CHILD WHEN LAST SEEN WITH SOLDIERS
Andy Pawecan, a licentiate pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) slain in Nueva Ecija last May, was last seen by witnesses being held by soldiers. The killing of Pawecan is one of several cases to be heard in March next year by the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT), where President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is to be tried for violations of the Filipino people’s individual and collective rights.
BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Andy Pawecan, a licentiate pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) slain in Nueva Ecija on May 21 this year, was last seen by witnesses being held by government soldiers. Bulatlat gathered this from copies of written testimonies by the witnesses, whose names are being withheld for the meantime for security reasons, as well as with human rights lawyers.
Pawecan is one of the 783 victims of extra-judicial killings from January 2001 –- when Arroyo was catapulted to power through a popular uprising –- to November 2006, based on data from the human rights group Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights). At least 330 of the victims are with confirmed political affiliation, Karapatan data further showed.
Based on the account of one of the witnesses, Pawecan had just concluded Sunday service in his church at noon in Sitio (sub-village) Maluyon, Barangay (village) Fatima, San Jose City and was on the way to take lunch with some devotees at the house of one of his congregation members in Sitio Maasip, Barangay Tayabo, Pantabangan. The witness was one of those with Pawecan.
“Humigit-kumulang 200 metro na lamang ang layo sa aming bahay nang harangin kami ng tatlong sundalo sa daan at pinigilan kaming umuwi ng aming bahay at sinabihan kami ng mga sundalo na: ‘Huwag muna kayong umuwi, baka magkaputukan e madamay pa kayo,’ kaya kami ay huminto sa daan sa kainitan ng araw” (More or less just 200 meters away from our house, we were stopped by three soldiers and prevented from going home and were told: “Don’t go home yet, an encounter may break out and you might be caught in it,” so we stopped on the road amid the heat of the sun), the witness said.
“Umalis ang isang sundalo at umakyat sa lugar na kinaroroonan ng aming bahay, pagdaan ng humigit-kumulang 30 minuto ay bumalik sa aming kinatatayuan ang isang sundalo at sinabihan kami na puwede na kaming umuwi pero pinaiwan si Andy Pawecan na noo’y kilik pa ang kanyang walong-buwang anak” (One of the soldiers left and went to the area where our house is and after more or less 30 minutes returned and said we could go home except Andy Pawecan, who was still carrying his eight-month-old daughter), the witness added. “Sinabi sa amin na kakausapin lamang siya ng mga sundalo at pauuwiin din pagkatapos” (We were told that the soldiers would just be talking to him and he would be allowed to go home afterward.)
Another witness, who was in Maluyon at the time Pawecan and his congregation members were held, said he was stopped by soldiers in front of a house morning that same day while on his way to the local market for reasons unknown to him.
“Noong ika-21 ng Mayo, 2006, ang oras ay ika-12 ng tanghali, ay pinahinto naman nila si Ptr. Andy Pawecan na noon ay kasama ng kanyang asawa na si Dominga Pawecan” (On May 21, 2006, at 12 noon, they stopped Ptr. Andy Pawecan who was then with his wife Dominga Pawecan), the witness said. “Noong mag-ikatatlo ng hapon, iyon ding araw na iyon, Linggo, ika-21 ng Mayo, ako mismo ay narinig ko na ang magkasunud-sunod na putok na iisang uri ng putok. Pagkatapos ng maraming putok ay mayroong sumigaw nang ganito, ‘Lumaban y’ong maydala ng bata.’” (At 3 that afternoon, that same day, May 21, 2006, I myself heard successive gunshots which sounded the same. After several gunshots, someone shouted, “The one carrying the baby fought back.”)
The first witness quoted in this article saw a soldier carrying Pawecan’s baby a few minutes after the burst of gunfire. She had a scratch on her face, the witness said of the baby.
“Nang hapon ding iyon ay nalaman naming patay na si Andy, sinabi ng mga sundalo na lumaban daw siya kaya siya binaril” (That same afternoon we learned that Andy was dead, the soldiers said he fought back so he was shot), the first witness said.
The next day, Maluyon residents went to claim Pawecan’s remains, and the witnesses said they were told by the soldiers that the pastor was a member of the New People’s Army (NPA) and that they recovered from him a SIM card marked “NPA,” which was the reason he was suspected of being an NPA member. The residents denied Pawecan was an NPA member, the witnesses said.
A fact sheet from Karapatan-Nueva Ecija identified the soldiers involved in the killing as belonging to the Philippine Army’s 48th Infantry Battalion, “D” Coy, which is part of the 7th Infantry Division then headed by Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Jr. Palparan retired from military service last Sept. 11. Data obtained through military sources point to Lt. Milner Taglinao as having direct command over the 48th Infantry Battalion, “D” Coy.
Pawecan’s case is one of those to be heard March next year by the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) in Den Haag, The Netherlands where President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is to be tried for:
* Violations of human rights, especially civil and political rights, with particular focus on summary executions, disappearances, massacres, torture as well as other vicious, brutal and systematic abuses and attacks on the basic democratic rights of the people;
* Violations of human rights, especially economic, social and cultural rights of the Filipino people through the imposition of “free market” globalization to exploit them; transgression of their economic sovereignty and national patrimony; various forms of economic plunder and attacks on their economic rights; and the destruction of the environment; and
* Violations of the rights of the people to national self-determination and liberation through the imposition of the U.S. war of terror; U.S. military intervention; as well as the perpetration of crimes against humanity and war crimes; misrepresentations of the people’s right to national liberation and self-determination as terrorism and the baseless “terrorist” listing of individuals, organizations and other entities by the U.S. and other governments.
The PPT will be hearing the cases based on the suit filed by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance), Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainee Laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya (SELDA or Society of Ex-Detainees Against Detention and for Amnesty), Desaparecidos, and HUSTISYA, the organization of victims of the current administration's human rights violations. Former UN ad litem judge Romeo Capulong is the chief prosecutor and lawyers Rachel Pastores and Amylyn Sato of the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) will be part of the prosecution panel in the PPT session. Bulatlat