KARAPATAN-SOUTHERN MINDANAO REGION
CONTACT PERSON: HANIMAY SUAZO
DAVAO CITY- Forces under the 25th IBPA arrested Armando Bermejo last May 19 for allegedly owning 500 rounds of M60 machine gun ammunition and having links to the New People’s Army. This makes thenumber of political prisoners tally to 44 in Southern Mindanao Region alone, says human rights group KARAPATAN-SMR.
Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of KARAPATAN-SMR, condemed the illegal arrest of Bermejo perpetrated by 30 elements under the 25th IB led by a certain 1st Lt. Mana. The military was said to have foundammunition in Bermejo’s banana field, after a warrantless search conducted by the said military unit.
“According to the testimony of the victim, Bermejo, the evidences gathered and accusations of the military were all lies and fabricated,” Suazo said.
Bermejo, a poor peasant from Dibabawon tribe, is a father of eight and currently a purok kagawad in Brgy. Casoon, Municipality of Monkayo, Compostela Valley Province. Also serving as the head of the Peace and Order committee in their area and is now detained at PNP Station in Monkayo facing Illegal Possession of Firearms and Explosives.
These actions, according to Suazo, comes in the nearing end of the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, with the military desperate to make face for its losses and failures to meet its targets.
To make up for their poor performance and embarrassing track record, the 25th IB has arrested innocent people, forced them to sign surrender papers, then paraded them to the media and branding them as high ranking officers or members or even snipers of the NPA, to say that they are succesful in their counterinsurgency campaign,” Suazo elaborated.
“It won’t be surprising if the 25th IB and the whole 10th ID under Maj. Gen. Eduardo Ano continue to terrorize poor Indigenous People or Lumad populations by encamping the communities resulting to illegal arrests, forced and/or fake surrenders, other forms of harassments, hamletting, and worst of all extrajudicial killings. Loud and clear, AFP’s anti-people Oplan Bayanihan is doomed to fail,” Suazo concluded.