Lester Barrientos of the Southern Tagalog Cultural Network: Artist, Martyhr
Killed during an AFP military operation in violation of the Christmas ceasefire truce
December 23, 2010
Kung Maari Sanang Dayain Ang Mata
ni Axel Pinpin
CITY OF CALAPAN, PhilippinesA cultural worker, who was supposed to visit his father on Christmas, was killed in a military operation in San Jose town, Occidental Mindoro, on Thursday, according to the youth group Anakbayan.
Progressive news magazine in the Filipino language with news and analysis, feature and investigative stories, and multimedia content.
December 25, 2010
Neil John Macuha (contact # 09993850584)
Deputy Secretary General, Anakbayan-TK
Glen Malabanan (contact # 09298079415)
Deputy Secretary General, Karapatan-ST
Youth cultural worker slain in Mindoro military operation,
Groups condemn military’s violation of ceasefire
On the eve of Christmas day, youth groups and human rights advocates led by Anakbayan Timog Katagalugan and Karapatan Southern Tagalog condemn the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) based in Mindoro for violating the ceasefire with the New People’s Army (NPA) that led to the slay of a youth cultural worker.
A son’s Christmas visit
Stephen Lester Barrientos, 19-years old and a member of the Southern Tagalog Cultural Network was killed by the AFP’s 80th Infantry Batallion (I.B.) when the military launched an offensive operation within San Jose, Occidental Mindoro last December 23.
Barrientos -or more fondly called by his friends as “Lester”, was set for a Christmas visit for his father in the same area and day.
“He was happy because of the ceasefire. Before he left for Mindoro he was excited and even confident that no harm will happen in his visit because of the declared ceasefire,” Neil John Macuha, Anakbayan deputy secretary general said.
Macuha said Lester even told them he would bring back a pasalubong when he got back from his trip –only to find out he wouldn’t even make it in time for Christmas with his father.
Anakbayan-TK slammed the military for not adhering to the protocol for ceasefire. “Why must the youth be a victim of the killings from the military themselves, aren’t they supposed to protect us?” he added.
“Act of Betrayal”
In a press statement, the Lucia de Guzman Command (LGDC)-NPA Mindoro said that the 80th I.B. made an “act of betrayal” when they launched an offensive operation at an NPA team stationed in Brgy. Bayotbot midnight of December 23.
The NPA were forced to flee to avoid any victims of crossfire from civilians in the area. The military also illegally arrested 3 civilians in the said operation.
Considered as one of the longest Christmas truce in Philippine history, the AFP and NPA have agreed to observe a ceasefire from December 16, 2010 to January 3, 2011 as part of a confidence-building measure before peace talks resume in the first quarter of 2011.
The LGDC-NPA Mindoro branded 80th I.B. Lt. Col. Roger Percol’s statement of “respect for the ceasefire” as a “big fraud and only propaganda” because in truth, offensive military operations continue in the province. They condemned the AFP for not holding their part of the truce.
A dedicated cultural worker
Since November 2006, Lester became a fulltime member of the cultural group Southern Tagalog Cultural Network (STCN) after dropping out of the Batangas State University due to financial difficulties. The STCN hones its members on the fields of theater, dance and music concerned in depicting the plight of the youth and others sectors of Philippine society.
“He was a dedicated cultural worker –his youthfulness vibrant in every street play he was involved in. His death is not only our loss but of every youth and cultural worker. He lived a life of selfless sacrifice –making sure that everything he offers can allow people to understand and engage them more to join struggle,” Macuha said.
Lester was an active part of many cultural performances in Southern Tagalog as well as in the National Capital Region including Daluyong (Anakbayan-TK’s 10th Anniversary Cultural Play), Gawad Eden Marcellana, Arangkada (Aral at Sining ng Kabataan sa Kalsada) as well as in the Lakbayan peasant marches and Labor Day commemorations. He was also involved in cultural workshops and street plays at picket lines, protest camps, far-flung rural areas and urban poor communities.
His last performances were during the November 30 No to education budget cut mobilization at Crossing, Calamba City and the December 9 and 10 Human Rights Caravan from Quezon Province to Mendiola in commemoration of the 62nd International Declaration of Human Rights.
“We demand justice!”
“We demand justice to what happened! It is apparent that the military is not serious in its ceasefire. The 80th I.B. should be punished for their ceasefire violation,” Macuha stressed.
Meanwhile, Glen Malabanan, Karapatan-ST deputy secretary general said that the human rights group regrets to account another record of extrajudicial killing under Aquino’s administration –this one even right before Christmas.
Lester is the 23rd victim of extrajudicial killings in Southern Tagalog under the first 6 months of Noynoy Aquino. Karapatan denounces Aquino’s policy of continuing Gloria Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya which paved the way for countless human rights violations in the country.
“The year 2010 will already end and yet here we see more killings where military elements are the culprits. Will 2011 be any different or will the peace talks only serve as a cloak to hide Noynoy Aquino’s bloody plan for the people?” Malabanan said. #
For more details, contact 09993850584 or 09298079415.
|In a street performance on the 100th day of PNoy|
25 Dis 2010 ...
Stephen Lester Barrientos, 19-years old and a member of the
Southern Tagalog Cultural Network was killed by the AFP's 80th
25 Dis 2010 ... Lester
Barrientos (gitna, naka-puti), miyembro ng Southern Tagalog ...
Occidental Mindoro si Stephen Lester Barrientos, isang
19-gulang na ...
Isang cultural worker si
Stephen Lester Barrientos. 19-year old na siya. Mula nung ma drop
siya sa Batangas State University, naging full time na si Lester
From the Facebook posting of Jun Saturay
Lester was like a son. He played
together with my children, the children of many... others like us. His
parents were fellow activists whom I work closely with. A few months ago,
his older brother, Cristopher, was killed by soldiers. Today, I received
news that he too had been killed. Lester and Christopher were in their
Lester Barrientos, martir na manggagawang pangkultura, martir na anak ng
Paglabag sa Tigil-putukan sa Mindoro
National Democratic Front of the
30 December 2010
CPP blasts AFP
ceasefire violations in Mindoro
In another ceasefire violation by the 801st IB, Christian Bascos, an
Alaala ni Lester
T I M O G K A T A G A L U G A N
DECEMBER 27, 2010
NEIL MACUHA (Contact number: 09993850584)
Deputy Secretary General, Anakbayan-TK
Bangkay ng kabataang pinaslang sa Occ. Mindoro, natagpuan na,
kaibigan at kapamilya, hinaras ng militar
"Basag ang mukha sa may bahagi ng panga, may tama [ng baril] sa tagiliran at namatay ng mulat." Ito ang deskripsyon sa larawan ng bangkay ng isang kabataang nasawi sa nakaraang opensibang atake ng militar sa Occidental Mindoro noong Disyembre 23, 2010.
Si Stephen Lester Barrientos, 19 taong gulang at aktibong miyembro ng Southern Tagalog Cultural Network (STCN) ay napaslang sa San Jose, Occidental Mindoro kung saan nagsagawa ng isang opensibang operasyon ang Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 80th Infantry Battalion (IB).
"Patuloy ang aming pagkundena sa panlilinlang ng AFP sa mga mamamayan at sa kanilang pekeng ceasefire. Dito natin nakikita ang pagiging desperado ng AFP na tugisin ang mga rebelde na kahit sa gitna ng isang napagkasunduang ceasefire at sa presensya ng mga sibilyan ay umaatake sila,” ani Neil Macuha, deputy secretary-general ng Anakbayan-Timog Katagalugan.
Natagpuan ang labi ni Barrientos, alas-dos y media ng hapon, Disyembre 26, sa Maxima Funeral Homes, Sitio Bayutbot kung saan siya diumano inilibing ng mga militar. Matapos maipa-autopsy ay napag-alamang nagtamo ng dalawang tama ng baril si Barrientos, isa sa kaliwang balikat at isa ay sa kanang bahagi ng dibdib.
Matapos maipa-embalsamo ang bangkay ay nilakad na ng mga kaibigan at kaanak ang papeles upang maiuwi ito sa Laguna kung saan nanirahan si Barrientos.
Pandarahas ng militar
Ngunit ayon kay Macuha, ang pagresponde sa pangyayari at paglalakad ng papeles ay hindi naging madali para sa mga kaanak at kaibigan ni Barrientos. Simula nang dumating ang mga ito sa Occidental Mindoro ay nakararanas umano sila ng pandarahas sa mga militar sa lugar.
Ulat ng isang kaanak, pasado alas-kwatro ng hapon noong Disyembre 26 din ay naganap ang interogasyon sa kanila ng mga military. Habang nakasuot ng full battle gear ang mga ito ay tinatanong diumano sila ng kung anu-ano tulad ng kinaroroonan ng magulang ni Barrientos, tirahan niya at dahilan kung bakit napadpad ito sa Occidental Mindoro, at habang tinatanong sila ng mga militar sa isang kubo ay kinukuhanan pa diumano sila ng mga larawan.
May apat na taong kahina-hinalang paligid-ligid sa lugar na pinagparadahan ng kanilang dyip at limang metro mula dito ay may truck na may lulang anim hanggang walong militar. Dagdag pa dito, sila ay binantaang haharangin sa isang checkpoint sa kanilang pagbalik sa Laguna.
Mariin namang pinabulaanan ni Macuha ang inilabas na impormasyon sa media ng AFP na miyembro ng New People’s Army (NPA) si Barrientos.
“Si Lester ay isa lamang anak na gustong magdiwang ng pasko kasama ang kanyang ama sa Occidental Mindoro. Ginagamit na naman ng militar na katwirang NPA ang casualties ng kanilang mga operasyon, ngunit ito ay gasgas na at lantad na ang kanilang pasistang katangian sa mamamayan.” ani Macuha. #
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