PHILIPPINES: Villagers abandon homes for fear of continued harassment by military in San Ildefonso, Bulacan 


Urgent Appeal Case: UA-139-2006
ISSUES: Military, Police violence,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a family of villagers in San Ildefonso, Bulacan, was forced to abandon their home and live elsewhere for fear of continued harassment by the military. Elements of the 24th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, led by Master Sergeant Rollie Castillo allegedly continued to harass Yolanda Lorenzana by forcing her to disclose the whereabouts of two men whom they claimed are her sons and members of a rebel group.

It began on 5 December 2005 when the same soldiers arrived in Barangay (village) Pinaod. Upon their arrival, they converted the Barangay Hall into their detachment. Soon after they started conducting a census by interviewing and questioning the villagers, among them were Yolanda’s family and her relatives. Yolanda had 10 children living with her.

According to a report from the Karapatan (Alliance of the Advancement of Peoples Rights), the military were deployed in search of two men, namely Emon and Ogie Orolpo Balmocena, whom they claimed are members of a rebel group. Castillo insists the two men they are pursuing and the two sons of Yolanda, namely Raymond and Ariel, are the same. After learning the soldiers were after them, Yolanda’s sons were forced to go into hiding even though they do not know those persons the military are looking.

Since then, the said military men continued in harassment of Yolanda’s family and her relatives by forcing them to disclose the whereabouts of her sons. The y also threatened to harm Yolanda’s family and her relatives if they refused to do so. The military has since visited the compound where the Lorenzanas live twice a week in one month.

On January 31 at around 1:30am, at least 12 military men from the same unit forced themselves into the Lorenzana’s compound and woke all the occupants of the four houses there. The military ordered them to produce “Emon” and “Ogie”. One of the soldiers pointed a gun towards Aileen Lorenzana-Gutierez while Master Sergeant Castillo threatened them saying: “Ganyan ang mangyayari sa inyo! Pagsisisihan nyo pag di lumabas ang mga kapatid ninyo!” (“This is what will happen to you. You’ll be sorry if you don’t show us your brothers.”)

The military stayed for about 10 to 15 minutes. Their neighbours later told the Lorenzanas that the soldiers threatened to blow up their property if they do not leave their house. They were frightened the threat could be true because prior to that, armed men wearing ski masks on February 1 massacred Lorenzanas relatives–the Tamayo family.

Since then, Yolanda and her relatives moved out of the compound and stayed elsewhere outside of the barangay.

On February 24 at around 12 midnight, somebody threw a liquor bottle containing gasoline at the kitchen of Yolanda’s house. Their neighbours, who saw the burning house, were immediately able to respond by putting out the fire. They found two more bottles of gasoline outside of the house after the incident. On February 26, at around 1:30am, Yolanda’s house was again torched by armed men. This time, the house was razed to the ground. While the house was burning, their neighbours were warned by armed men not to come out from their houses by indiscriminately firing guns. Another house owned by Felicidad San Pedro located beside Yolanda’s was also burned down.

This incident demonstrates yet again an arbitrary use of authority by the military attached to the 24th Infantry Battalion in the area. The AHRC has previously issued similar cases where villagers were harassed, threatened and tortured by the military concerned. (Please see our previous appeals: UP-052-2006UA-077-2006UA-030-2006) Despite a number of complaints against this unit, the AHRC is unaware of any action having been taken against them.


Please send letters to the agencies listed below requesting for an investigation regarding the allegation made against the group of Master Sergeant Rollie Castillo of the 24th Infantry Battalion and his men. The military, in particular their head, must be held liable for their acts. Appropriate protection and security must be afforded to the victims’ family. They must be afforded with security and assured of their safety if they return to their village.


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Dear _________,

PHILIPPINES: Villagers abandon homes for fear of continued harassment by military in San Ildefonso, Bulacan

Names of victims: 
1. Yolanda Lorenzana (54) 
2. Aileen Lorenzana-Gutierez, daughter of Yolanda
3. Yolanda’s 10 children, all of who are residents of Balmocena Street, Barangay (village) Pinaod, San Ildefonso, Bulacan
Name of alleged perpetrators: Elements of the 24th Infantry Battalion led by Master Sergeant Rollie Castillo 
Place of incident: Lorenzana Compound Balmocena Street, Barangay Pinaod, San Ildefonso, Bulacan
Date of incident: 5 December 2005 to 26 February 2006

I am writing to draw your attention to the desperate plight of Yolanda Lorenzana, her children and her relatives presently facing continued threats by the military. I have learned that elements of the 24th Infantry Battalion led by Master Sergeant Rollie Castillo have been harassing Yolanda’s family since December 2005. Castillo is forcing Yolanda to disclose the whereabouts of the two men, identified as "Emon" and "Ogie", whom they claim as rebels. Castillo insists that the two men and Yolanda’s two sons are the same.

I am aware that Yolanda’s family and her relatives were forced to abandon their village in San Ildefonso, Bulacan and live elsewhere for fear of continued violence. According to the information I received, on 31 January 2006, Castillo together with 12 of his men carrying firearms, forced their way into the Lorenzana’s compound. Castillo threatened to harm them should they continue not to cooperate with them. On February 26, armed men torched Yolanda’s house. This happened two days after a foiled attempt to torch her house also by a group of armed men. Yolanda and her relatives abandoned their house following the incident.

I am extremely disappointed by this further example of abuses committed by elements of the 24th Infantry battalion, Philippine Army (PA). As you are aware, I have already sent you similar complaints regarding the abuses by the said unit concerned in the past.

In November and December 2005, labour leader Enrico Estarez and his family also experienced similar threats by the same military unit. Estrarez was forced to go into hiding. Three of his colleagues were tortured inside their camp when they were invited for questioning. On February 14, villagers Reynaldo Manalo and his brother Raymond were arrested and disappeared by armed men believed to be the military’s agents. On March 6, a group of men believed to have connections with them also abducted labour leader Rogelio Concepcion. Concepcion has since disappeared.

These numerous incidents of abuses and arbitrary use of authority by elements of the 24th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army gravely concern me. It also troubles me that they have not been held accountable for their acts. I am unaware of any actions taken against them despite these serious complaints. I am disappointed that they have not been suspended and investigated to answer to the allegations made against them.

I urge your immediate action to ensure that this unit is investigated by an independent investigating body. They must be suspended from their official duty once the investigation commences in order to prevent them from harassing the victims further. The victim’s family must be afforded with protection and safety. These abuses by the military committed against civilians are totally unacceptable. If the allegations are found to be true, they must charged accordingly in court.

I trust that you will take action in this case.

Yours sincerely,



1. Ms. Purificacion Quisumbing
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
Fax: +63 2 929 0102

2. Mr. Orlando Casimiro
Deputy Ombudsman
Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and
Other Law Enforcement Offices
3rd Floor, Ombudsman Bldg., Agham Road, Diliman (1104) 
Quezon City
Tel: +632 926 9032
Fax: +63 2 926 8747

3. P/DIR Gen. Arturo Lumibao
Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP)
Camp Crame
Quezon City 
Tel: +63 2726 4361/4366/8763
Fax: +63 2724 8763

4. Gen. Generoso Senga
Chief of Staff
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
AFP-GHQ Offices, Camp Gen Emilio Aguinaldo
Quezon City

5. Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005 
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
Fax: +63 2 736 1010

6. Professor Manfred Nowak
Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture
Attn: Mr.Safir Syed
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 9230

7. Ms. Yakin Erturk
Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women
c/o Ms Lucinda O'Hanlon
Room 3-042
1211 Geneva 10
Tel: +41 22 917 9615

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : UA-139-2006
Countries : Philippines,
Issues : Military, Police violence,