Congressional Inquiry Held to Discuss HRVs in Davao

UNCOVERING (From left) Rep. Antonio Tinio, Rep. Karlos Zarate, and Rep. Romarate, along with several other lawmakers sit to listen to the accounts of the victims of human rights violations in Southern Mindanao (Photo and caption by Siam Ores, Karapatan-SMR)
UNCOVERING (From left) Rep. Antonio Tinio, Rep. Karlos Zarate, and Rep. Romarate, along with several other lawmakers sit to listen to the accounts of the victims of human rights violations in Southern Mindanao (Photo and caption by Siam Ores, Karapatan-SMR)

DAVAO CITY- Lawmakers led by Rep. Guillermo Romarate , chair of the congressional Committee on Human Rights, spearheaded an inquiry this August 13-14 into the human rights violations by the AFP in Southern Mindanao.

Cases of Roque Antivo, Aida Seisa, the forcible recruitment of lumads into paramilitary group Alamara, and the usurpation of authority by Alamara leaders from the tribal leaders of Talaingod and Kapalong, Davao del Norte, and San Fernando, Bukidnon, are among the many cases that they will raise.

Attacks and militarization against IP learning schools were also discussed.

Rius Valle of Save Our Schools Network presented pictures and video of actual school encampment of the military in various places.

Ronie Garcia, Administrator of STTICLC presented the strafing incidents last October 14-17 that transpired in their school in Talaingod, Davao Del Norte where the military are encamping the community.

Garcia and the students survived the strafing.

He also said that the Local Government Unit in the is futile that they did not receive any help even after various dialogues with the officials.

Hanimay Suazo of Karapatan is hopeful in the inquiry that it would do well to shed light on the human rights violations.

“Till now, justice remains elusive. Through this (congressional inquiry), we are hoping that we are closing on holding the Aquino government and the military accountable.”she said

She added “By doing this, we are hammering down the wall of impunity where the fascist troops of the AFP have been cowering for long.”

Suazo said that the human rights violations should be factored in by the congress when it decides for the budget of the military.

She said that aside from pork barrel funds, the lion’s share of the military of the national budget should be condemned as well.

She claimed that the modernization program of the AFP will not bolster the state’s armed forces, as long as its long record of human rights violations are not resolved.

She added, “No technology will ever wash off the blood in the hands of the AFP. Year after year the budget for military expenditures have increased, along with the number of human rights violations. The military should review instead its principles and ask: who exactly do they serve? The Filipino people, or the interests of foreign corporations and their allies in the US-Aquino regime?”

The lawmakers who attended the said Congressional Inquiry were as follows: Cong. Guillermo Romarate, Cong. Antonio Tinio, Congw. Luz Ilagan, Cong. Karlos Zarate and Cong. Fernando Hicap.

PRESS RELEASE

AUGUST 30, 2015

CONTACT PERSON: HANIMAY SUAZO

0932-198-6728

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IP Group to AFP: “Stop manipulating facts”

We are reposting the Press Release of PASAKA-SMR on the misrepresentation by the Eastern Mindnao Command of UN Special Rapporteur on Internally Displaced Persons Chaloka Beyani.

STANDING STRONG Leaders of PASAKA-SMR, in a protest march held in Davao City last August 10, in celebration of the International IP's Day. PASAKA-SMR leaders belied the claims of the military that they were manipulated into coming to UCCP Haran, and attested to the numerous atrocities by the military in their communities. (Photo by Kilab Multimedia, caption by Samuel dela Cruz, Karapatan-SMR)
STANDING STRONG Leaders of PASAKA-SMR, in a protest march held in Davao City last August 10, in celebration of the International IP’s Day. PASAKA-SMR leaders belied the claims of the military that they were manipulated into coming to UCCP Haran, and attested to the numerous atrocities by the military in their communities. (Photo by Kilab Multimedia, caption by Samuel dela Cruz, Karapatan-SMR)

DAVAO CITY – PASAKA-SMR decried today the efforts of the military to misinform the public by maliciously twisting the stand of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) on the evacuees in UCCP Haran.

The military propagated in the media thru their Press Release quoting UN Rapporteur, Dr. Chaloka Beyani saying that the lumad evacuees are “manipulated”.

Graham Fox, Dr. Chaloka Beyani’s media officer clarified to Interaksyon editor, Nonoy Espina, that he “does not recognize the quote attributed to Mr. Beyani by the AFP”.

Fox said that “the special rapporteur was explicit in his discussion with the AFP representatives on multiple occasions that the persons concerned (lumad evacuees) should under no circumstances be considered to fall into the category of trafficked persons.”

He further stated that “it is the Special Rapporteur’s understanding, based on the first hand interviews with the Indigenous People in Haran, that they relocated to this facility freely in response to the militarization of their areas and forced recruitment into paramilitary groups operating under the auspices of the AFP.”

Fox said that the AFP statement “is consequently a gross misrepresentation of the position of the Special Rapporteur.”

Kerlan Fanagel, PASAKA-SMR chair, said that the AFP “has sunk to the deepest levels of misguided action, in its move to sow dispute in the efforts to bring into light the poor plight of over 700 lumad evacuees staying in UCCP Haran.”

Fanagel said, “By twisting facts, it has not only posed a danger to the evacuees due to the possible perception that these lumads are being used for monetary schemes, when in reality their statements about militarization and abuse by state forces are true; it has also looked down on the intelligence of every Filipino, who deserves to know the truth of the operations of its country’s military force.”

“The government has insulted Dr. Beyani, and the entire mission of pursuing peace. The military’s insincerity towards giving protection to the nation is clearly reflected here,” he added.

He also condemned high-ranking officers of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) for their recent “ill-planned publicity stunt”. “This proves that the officers of the Phil. Army like Col. Harold Cabunoc and officials of Eastern Mindanao Command, particularly Cpt. Alberto Caber, Col. Eduardo Gubat, and Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad are more than willing to shamefully employ every dirty tactic under its disposal in an effort to manipulate public opinion, regardless if there is any truth to their claims.”

“This conjures in mind psychotic individuals who are unable to realize concrete situations and see the human rights dimension in these. And we cannot have liars like them overseeing the daily operations of thousands of individuals armed with deadly weapons,” Fanagel said.

He said that, “Their continuing existence in public office constitutes a grave threat to the human rights situation of the people all over Mindanao.”

Press Release

AUGUST 12, 2015

CONTACT PERSON: KERLAN FANAGEL

0922-291-6342

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Rights Group Foretells Greater IP HRV’s with AFP Officer’s Reassignment

THREAT Col. Harold Cabunoc, formerly of the AFP Public Affairs Office, will reportedly be focusing on IP's in Davao in his new role. Human rights groups can only brace for a spike in atrocities perpetrated by the military. (Photo by UNTV News, caption by Laz Olalo, Karapatan-SMR)
THREAT Col. Harold Cabunoc, formerly of the AFP Public Affairs Office, will reportedly be focusing on IP’s in Davao in his new role. Human rights groups can only brace for a spike in atrocities perpetrated by the military. (Photo by UNTV News, caption by Laz Olalo, Karapatan-SMR)

DAVAO CITY- Karapatan-SMR expressed its fears regarding the recent news of Col. Harold Cabunoc’s reassignment to IP-military projects in Davao, saying that such action will only intensify the war of the AFP against lumad communities.

Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR, said that Cabunoc’s “anti-social attitude and narrow-minded opinion” endangers “the already maligned and marginalized lumads, who’ve already had more than enough of the AFP in the recent months”.

“No greater manifestation that the AFP is truly targeting lumads in the region than the special focus Cabunoc will give in his new position, which is geared towards undermining the legitimacy of the pleas of our IP brothers and sisters. His reassignment is like rubbing salt to the wounds of human rights violations the AFP has committed against the lumads.”

“Cabunoc’s actions as chief of the AFP PAO already showed his gung-ho nature and verbal trigger-happy tendencies. It was him who tainted further the image of the AFP when he publicly aired his misinformed opinions on state issues, earning the ire of simple citizens and media personalities,” Suazo added.

It can be remembered that Cabunoc had a twitter war with veteran journalist Cheche Lazaro regarding the actions of the foreign partner of slain transgender Jennifer Laude.

Recently, Cabunoc had another skirmish with a journalist in twitter, this time about the plight of the 700 lumad evacuees housed in UCCP Haran.

Suazo deplored Cabunoc’s reasoning regarding the situation of the evacuees.

“Cabunoc’s statements regarding social issues are irresponsible, if not inappropriate and lacking concrete analysis,” Suazo added.

Suazo claims that Cabunoc’s “irresponsible handling of his job when he was in the PAO” posed great dangers, one that human rights groups should be wary of.

“The ignorance of a man in public office is more dangerous than the barrel of a gun in the forests. That much we should acknowledge,” Suazo said.

AUGUST 11, 2015
PRESS RELEASE
KARAPATAN-SOUTHERN MINDANAO REGION
CONTACT PERSON: HANIMAY SUAZO
0932-198-6728

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“We were used by the military to join rallies”- Talaingod Bakwit

PUPPET MASTERS Lumads from Talaingod were coerced into protesting for the military at Naval Station Felix Apolinario in Panacan, Davao City, last June 12. Out of fear, they willingly complied to the orders of the military. (Photo by Ace Morandante of Davao Today, Caption by Samuel dela Cruz).
PUPPET MASTERS Lumads from Talaingod were coerced into protesting for the military at Naval Station Felix Apolinario in Panacan, Davao City, last June 12. Out of fear, they willingly complied to the orders of the military. (Photo by Ace Morandante of Davao Today, Caption by Samuel dela Cruz).

DAVAO CITY- Some lumads from militarized Sitio Laslasakan, Talaingod, Davao del Norte reported that they have been coerced by the military to join protests in Tagum and Davao City.

According to Niño (Not his real name), he and his companions in Sitio Laslasakan were harassed by the military, then coerced to falsely admit that they were NPA.

“Nahadlok na jud mi ato, mao napugos na lang mi ug tug-an, maski dili tinuod, na NPA mi,” (We were really afraid, so we were forced to admit, even when it was not true, that we were NPA’s”) Niño said.

Days later, Nino was brought to JBL in Talaingod, where they were presented as rebel returnees to the public.  A sack of rice was promised to them after their participation in the said conference, which lasted for three days.

On June 12, they boarded trucks and were sent to the Radyo ni Juan station in Tagum City, where they were told to rally gainst the said station.

“Gi-ingnan mi sa sundalo ‘Shagit mo na tarungon sa RnJ (Radyo ni Juan) ang ilang pagbalita, dili na tirahon ang mga military’” (“We were told by the soldiers ‘Shout out to RnJ that they should do right their reportage, to not anymore make bad remarks about the military’”), Niño said. They boarded the trucks once more, and were brought to Camp Panacan in Davao City.

“Pag-abot sa Davao, gipa-rally na pud mi didto sa Panacan. Ingon ang sundalo manawagan daw na ibalik ang PDAF, nya pahawoon ang mga eskwelahan sa Salugpungan, ug ipabilin ang military sa Talaingod (“Upon arrival in Davao, we were made to protest once more in Panacan. The soldiers said that we should call for the return of PDAF, for the removal of the Salugpungan schools, and for the military to remain in Talaingod”), Nino said.

Asked whether he knew what PDAF meant, Niño said “wala ko kabalo unsa jud na. Unsa diay na?” (“I do not know what that is. What is that?”).

Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR, said that the case of Nino and several others are again another glaring example of the military’s tactic of pitting the lumads against each other.

“Lt.Col. Vicente Edgardo de Ocampo of the 68th IB and Col. Ricardo Nepomuceno of the 1003rd have been making puppets of the Talaingod Manobos. It is clear that their presence and hand in Talaingod bring nothing more but even greater hardships for the people.”

“If the 68th IB continues to encamp in their houses and communities, it means that there will be more Nino’s in the future. The victims of scenarios like these are not just the Talaingod Manobos, but the public as well, who have become helpless lambs in the ill propaganda propagated by the military.”

“With Niño’s story, it is clear that it is the military who is manipulating the lumads, capitalizing on their fear of them and their poverty,” Suazo concluded.

 

AUGUST 10, 2015
PRESS RELEASE
KARAPATAN-SOUTHERN MINDANAO REGION
CONTACT PERSON: HANIMAY SUAZO
0932-198-6728

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HR Group Likens State Forces to “Lowly Gangs’; Says Evacs have to Stay

HOLDING GROUND Bukidnon lumad leader Jimboy Mandaguit stands with other leaders from Davao del Norte, disputing the claims of the Alamara that it is safe to return in their communities in the countryside. (Photo by Kidlat Pamukaw, caption by Laz Olalo, Karapatan-SMR)
HOLDING GROUND Bukidnon lumad leader Jimboy Mandaguit stands with other leaders from Davao del Norte, disputing the claims of the Alamara that it is safe to return in their communities in the countryside. (Photo by Kidlat Pamukaw, caption by Laz Olalo, Karapatan-SMR)

AUGUST 10, 2015
PRESS RELEASE
KARAPATAN-SOUTHERN MINDANAO REGION
CONTACT PERSON: HANIMAY SUAZO
0932-198-6728

DAVAO CITY- Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR, said that state forces are the only ones interested in sending the text threats to the leaders of lumad evacuees in UCCP Haran.

Suazo adds that the military and their political cohorts are desperate to break the will of the lumad evacuees, after their “rescue” miserably failed.

“It is disappointing that instead of addressing the root causes of conflict, the state elements have resorted to text threats. Such is the act of gangsters and crime lords, who resort to violence to settle trouble instead of studying the problems correctly.”

“The July 23 incident clearly showed that violence is not the answer to the problem of the lumads. But these state forces only add fuel to the fire, with the messages they are sending,” Suazo said.

Suazo said that with these threats, the reason for the lumads to take shelter in Davao City has only strengthened.

“Their lives are at risk. If they experience these threats while under sanctuary of the church, how much more when they return to their homes, where there are no fences to fend off their attackers, where media coverage is scant to expose their situation? All the more that these people have to remain in the safety of their evacuation site.”

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Text Threats Hound Lumad Leaders in Haran

TARGET Benito Bay-ao (speaking with the microphone) is a lumad leader from Talaingod, Davao del Norte, who had received a text message threatening his life and of other lumad evacuees in UCCP Haran. Bay-ao is very vocal against the militarization of lumad areas, and was among one of those hurt in the July 23 forced entry of police and intelligence forces in the UCCP Haran, where he and 700 others have taken sanctuary. (Photo by Paulo Cabataña Rizal of HIMATI, caption by Lian Manalo, Karapatan-SMR)
TARGET Benito Bay-ao (speaking with the microphone) is a lumad leader from Talaingod, Davao del Norte, who had received a text message threatening his life and of other lumad evacuees in UCCP Haran. Bay-ao is very vocal against the militarization of lumad areas, and was among one of those hurt in the July 23 forced entry of police and intelligence forces in the UCCP Haran, where he and 700 others have taken sanctuary. (Photo by Paulo Cabataña Rizal of HIMATI, caption by Lian Manalo, Karapatan-SMR)

AUGUST 6, 2015
PRESS RELEASE
KARAPATAN-SOUTHERN MINDANAO REGION
CONTACT PERSON: HANIMAY SUAZO
0932-198-6728

DAVAO CITY- Leaders of lumad evacuees sheltered in UCCP Haran decried “death threats” from unknown individuals since the botched rescue of police elements and government agencies last July 23.

The threats, sent through text messages, accuse the evacuees of being “supporters of the NPA”, and urging them to “stop being used as pawns” by the said group.

Some messages even challenge the evacuees to a one-on-one fight with the anonymous people sending the messages.

Benito Bay-ao, of the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon (Unity in Defense of the Ancestral Land), is the latest victim of this “text threats”.

“I received a text two days ago. It told me that the Alamara knew that in reality, we were supporters of the NPA.”

“It further said that if ‘they’ enter here (UCCP Haran), we won’t just be beaten up. We would be killed,” Bay-ao said.

Palo (not his real name), a youth leader from Kapalong, said that he had received text threats only two days after the incident in July 23.

Palo too, was told that they would be killed.

Palo became prominent after the failed rescue, as he was photographed while in the frontlines of those who formed a human barricade to deter the entry of the police.

But the lumad leaders remain undaunted in their stand.

“We are not afraid. Why would we be afraid? We have done nothing wrong,” Bay-ao said.

“They can kill us all they want, but what will they gain? Anyway, it would be better for us to die than to cower in fear, or to join the Alamara,” Bay-ao said.

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DECLARATION OF PERSONA NON GRATA STATUS TO NANCY CATAMCO

We are reposting the declaration of “Persona Non Grata” status to Nancy Catamco by the 700 Manobo evacuees led by the lumad leaders of the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon (Unity in Defense of the Ancestral Land).

BLESS THIS GROUND AND FORBID THAT WOMAN Lumad who have evacuated in UCCP Haran hold up a banner declaring Rep. Nancy Catamco
BLESS THIS GROUND AND FORBID THAT WOMAN Lumad who have evacuated in UCCP Haran hold up a banner declaring Rep. Nancy Catamco “Persona Non Grata”. (Photo by Kilab Multimedia, Caption by Samuel dela Cruz)

We, leaders of the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon, do hereby declare a persona non grata status to Rep. Nancy Catamco, for her:

1) Deception of over 700 lumad evacuees in UCCP Haran last July 16, where she brought B/Gen. Alexander Balutan of the 10th ID and Col. Harold Cabreros of the 1003rd Bde, PA, and their intelligence cohorts into the evacuation area without the prior knowledge of the evacuees and their support groups. This illegal entry of the military forces posed significant danger to the refugees;

2) Disrespect for the lumad leaders from Talaingod and Kapalong, Davao del Norte,and from San Fernando, Bukidnon, by questioning the legitimacy of their status as leaders;

3) Siding with the military, as manifested in her refusal to heed and understand the calls of the evacuees for the pull-out of military forces in their communities, thus becoming an AFP spokesperson;

4) Twisting of facts during and after the dialogue, which obscured the reality of intense militarization in the countryside and the genuine struggle of us lumads for our rights;

5) Insensitivity to our current situation, when she called our children “stinky”, and the lumad population “ignorant”;

6) Surrender of her lumad status by her clear collaboration with state elements who threaten the lives and cultures of lumads.

We hereby close all avenues of interaction with Catamco. She also cannot enter the grounds of our evacuation site here in UCCP Haran, or in our communities in Talaingod

Many times in the past we have taken part in dialogues mediated by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, and many times we have been treated with respect and understanding, our side heard and articulated fairly by Mayor himself. Such are the kind of dialogues that we will willingly enter, not the ones where Nancy Catamco presides and steps on our human rights and dignities.

Here we also reaffirm that we are the true leaders of the people in Talaingod, not the IPMR leaders under the NCIP, which have become the current puppies of the reactionary government of the US-Aquino regime.

Given this day July 22, 2015,

Datu Doloman Dawsay

Datu Ginom Andel

Benito Bay-ao

Kailo Bontulan