March 06, 2015

10 years ago on March 09, 2005, Romy Sanchez was busy looking for some second hand clothes for his children at Kayang Market, Baguio City when he was fatally shot and killed by suspected State security forces. Exactly 10 years has passed, and no justice is served. The culture of impunity continues. Worst, the perpetrators are free and still lurking among the people.

Romy Sanchez was a people’s champion. He was neither a criminal nor a terrorist. Sanchez dedicated most of his life working with people’s organizations in his advocacy for rights and welfare of peasants, indigenous people, fisher folks and other sectors of society, and for justice, peace and equality. Sanchez was also a staunch human rights defender. He fearlessly denounced human rights violations committed against innocent civilians by the 50th IB PA based in Guimod, San Juan, La Union. He bravely exposed exploitative policies and programs of the government.

Ironically, serving the people with his utmost commitment led to his being persecuted by the State security forces. In May 2000, elements of the ISAFP (Intelligence Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines) abducted him along with his colleague in Rizal province, and later charged him and other non-government workers and lay workers for the murder of Conrado Balweg. The Regional Trial Court in Abra eventually dismissed the charges against Sanchez and his other co-accused for lack of evidence to implicate him in the murder of Conrado Balweg. Since then, Sanchez experienced and received heightened surveillance and threats to his life. Despite these, his passion to serve the peasants, fisher folks and indigenous peoples of Ilocos and Cordillera regions did not diminish until his last breath.

It is strongly believed that the 50th IB Philippine Army in collusion with the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Bongcayao Brigade (RPA-ABB) was behind the extrajudicial killing of Sanchez. The RPA-ABB is being used by the military to carry out their assassination plots among the leaders and members of legitimate people’s organizations in the Ilocos region. Sanchez was one of the cases of extrajudicial killings perpetrated by the State security forces through the former Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL).

At the time of his death, Romy Sanchez was a volunteer staff of STOP Ex (Solidarity to Oppose Exploitation) – a chapter of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas. Sanchez was also the Secretary General of BAYAN (Bagong Alyansang Makabayan) and at the same time he was the Coordinator of the party list Bayan Muna in the Ilocos Region. Before joining these organizations, Sanchez was a radio broadcaster.

The Cordillera Peoples Alliance never forgets people’s heroes and martyrs like Romy Sanchez. We will always value their contributions and their lives which was their ultimate sacrifice for the noble cause of serving the people. In his 10th death anniversary, we pay tribute and salute to Romy Sanchez, a people’s hero.

We will not waver in fighting for our human rights, and calling for justice for Sanchez and to all victims of extrajudicial killings and human rights violations. The Aquino regime’s counter-insurgency policy Oplan Bayanihan which has resulted in numerous human rights violations and the extrajudicial killings of leaders and members of legitimate people’s organizations must be scrapped. State security forces should respect and protect people’s rights. ***

For reference:

Jude Baggo

Public Information Officer