JUNE 15, 2015
KARAPATAN-SOUTHERN MINDANAO REGION
CONTACT PERSON: HANIMAY SUAZO
DAVAO CITY- A relief mission participated by human rights group KARAPATAN-SMR in Sitio Kasunugan, Baganga Davao Oriental revealed the effects of military presence in the area.
The relief mission, organized by intermediary group Exodus for Justice and Peace, aimed to give medical aid, psychosocial intervention, and documentation of human rights abuses in the said area, in the period surrounding the encounter between the 67th IBPA and NPA in the area.
Said encounter resulted to the deaths of two military personnel and loss of an M16 rifle.
KARAPATAN-SMR secretary-general Hanimay Suazo says that after the encounter, the civilian population was accused of coordinating the military’s movements with the NPA, leading to the ambush of the former.
“We have spoken with the residents of Sitio Kasunugan who have been labelled as ‘traitors’ and ‘liars’ by elements of the 67th IBPA, under the suspicion that they gave the signal for the NPA to set-up an ambush,” Suazo said.
“For instance Ricky Basig, a farmer in Sitio Kasunugan, was told ‘imposible jud na wala ka kabalo nga naa sila’ (“it is impssible that you did not know that they (NPA) were just around”). Furthermore, he was told ‘bantay lang ka kung maigo pa mi, ikaw among patyon’ (“You watch out because if we get hit one more time, we will kill you”).
36 homes in Patong, a nearby area in Kasunugan, have also evacuated due to the event.
Residents feared that the military might accuse them further if they are seen in their far-flung farms.
“Up till now, these families have yet to return to their daily economic activities,” Suazo said.
“The situation in Sitio Kasunugan shows the consequences of state forces violating the rules of war by encamping in civilian communities,” Suazo concluded.