More than a thousand people converged in Davao City on Human Rights Day, to once again call for the pull-out of military troops in the countryside and end to the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan of the Aquino administration.
Lumad evacuees from Davao del Norte, Bukidnon, and Compostela Valley were joined by peasants and urban activists as they marched the thoroughfares of Davao, shouting “Pakyason ang Oplan Bayanihan!” (“Defeat Oplan Bayanihan!”), “Ihunong ang militarisasyon sa kabukiran!” (“End the militarization in the countryside!”), and “Yutang Kabilin! Depensahan! Ipaglaban!” (“Ancestral Lands! Defend! Fight for!”).
DAVAO CITY- Thousands staged a caravan protest towards the Eastern Mindanao Command of the AFP, in line with the Human Rights Day today.
Human rights group Karapatan decried the Aquino regime’s “Tuwid na daan” (righteous road), saying that it led “hundreds to hell in the six years of implementation of Oplan Bayanihan”.
Activists say that they will “run after the Aquino regime. We are readying ourselves to chase the monstrosity that is Aquino after its last six months in office, and make it accountable for its crimes.”
“50 individuals have become victims of human rights violations under the Aquino regime in Southern Mindanao. Not one has been given justice, with the snail-paced investigations of government agencies, which we surmise are their roles in the counterinsurgency program, under the “Whole of the Nation Initiative” framework.”
“Over 2500 individuals in Southern Mindanao alone have been victims of displacement due to militarization, including hundreds of lumad children whose education had abruptly ended due to the various forms of attacks by state forces,” said Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Secretary-General Hanimay Suazo.
Suazo added the recent case of evacuation of over 200 individuals from Purok 4B, Brgy. Mangayon, Compostela, due to the encampment of heavily armed elements from the 66th IB, led by a Lt. Danjoe Lagula.
“The schooling of almost a hundred students had to stop earlier than the intended Christmas break, owing to the presence of these men in the purok at the center of the community, only 50 meters from the lumad school,” Suazo said.
Aside from the attacks on schools, Suazo also scored the Aquino government for its “legal offensive” against members of progressive organizations vocal against the anti-people policies of the government.
“We remember that the organizers of the barricade in Montevista last 2013 were victims of Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation for calling for relief goods and other governmental aid. Likewise, heads of support groups for the lumad evacuees here in Davao were also maliciously filed with trumped-up cases of trafficking and kidnapping of the lumad. These cases were filed even after UN Special Rapporteur on IDP’s Chaloka Beyani said that the lumad in Haran are not victims of human trafficking, and have come down from the mountains of their own free will.”
Karapatan-SMR tallied 107 individuals affected by over -62 trumped-up charges filed by state agents. Also, there are 55 political prisoners in the region.
Suazo says that in the remaining months of the Aquino regime, the military “will display its most ferocious and fascist form, in a bid to achieve its goals as its deadline draws near.”
“We can be certain that there will be more attacks against the people. More blood will be spilled, more schools will be closed. More paramilitary groups will be formed, with greater impunity.”
“The only way to defeat Oplan Bayanihan is for the people to unite and tirelessly call for justice and end to militarization in the countryside. And we are certain that we will defeat Oplan Bayanihan. This counterinsurgency program has only made clear that this government is one that kills its own people, and the only recourse is resistance,” Suazo concluded.