Karapatan staff tailed by army intelligence

DSC05264
HUMAN RIGHTS THREAT A suspected intelligence agent sits beside one of the Karapatan-SMR staff, then covered his mouth, as if to relay information on his observations (Photo by Hanimay Suazo)

DAVAO CITY- Human rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao condemned the surveillance on them by suspected military intelligence forces.

Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR, said that the incident took place when she and three other staff members were meeting in a fast food center in Maa in the morning of January 30, a military intelligence sat on the table next to them.

Suazo identified the person of heavy built and was wearing camouflage trousers and eyes covered with sunglasses.

“The man was wearing shades, but it was obvious that he kept staring at us every now and then,” Suazo said.

“One of our staff recognized him as one of the intelligence agents present at Rivera Funeral Homes when they helped claim the body of NPA commander Leoncio “Parago” Pitao,” she added.

SEEN AGAIN The asset on the left, in red long-sleeves, was recognized by one of the Karapatan staff. His companion on the left is also an intelligence asset who kept taking photos of the family of Leoncio Pitao and the Karapatan staff that went with them. (Photo by Lam Banuag)
SEEN AGAIN The asset on the left, in red long-sleeves, was recognized by one of the Karapatan staff. His companion on the left is also an intelligence asset who kept taking photos of the family of Leoncio Pitao and the Karapatan staff that went with them. (Photo by Lam Banuag)

Suazo said the when the agent finished his meal, he called someone on his mobile phone and covered his mouth during the conversation.  Around this time they noticed another man wearing sunglasses and a cap standing outside the door across their table and was looking at them while texting on his phone.

“We stopped and moved out. But as we were walking, the man who sat beside us immediately called from his phone and covered his mouth once more. While the person outside kept watching us as we rode a taxicab,” Suazo said.

Suazo said with the recent spate of killings in Southern Mindanao this January, the harassment against human rights defenders are bound to happen.

“Our work as human rights defenders have earned us the same ire from the state and corporations who want to plunder our resources and repress our rights,” she said.

But Suazo said that they remain unflinching in their work. “We remain firm with our work to hold the Aquino government accountable for human rights violations and plunder of our natural resources.  We continue to call for the end of militarization and the attacks against human rights defenders,” she said.

Last year, three suspected intelligence agents of the military tried to force their way inside the Karapatan office.

Suazo is also facing trumped-up charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention for helping out the Manobo evacuees currently housed in the Haran compound in Davao City.

 

###

 

 

Anti-mining woman activist dies three days after shooting; Karapatan condemns rise of killings

CRITICAL CONDITION Teresita Navacilla, anti open-pit mining activist, in the hospital ICU hours after surviving an assassination attempt. Mining companies NADECOR and St. Augustine Mining Company are set to operate in the Pantukan area, affecting residents like Navacilla (Photo by Hanimay Suazo)
CRITICAL CONDITION Teresita Navacilla, anti open-pit mining activist, in the hospital ICU hours after surviving an assassination attempt. Mining companies NADECOR and St. Augustine Mining Company are set to operate in the Pantukan area, affecting residents like Navacilla (Photo by Hanimay Suazo)

 

TAGUM CITY- Teresita Navacilla, anti-foreign large-scale mining activist, breathed her last in the early hours of January 30, after surviving the attack on her life last January 27.

Navacilla had returned that day from jail after visiting Giovanni Guitierez, a small-scale miner and her neighbor who was illegally arrested and branded as NPA by elements of the 46th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army.

By evening, a suspected military agent went to Navacilla’s store and fired two shots to her direction, which caught her in the nape and the back of her head. She was rushed to the hospital, after her attacker and his accomplices sped away in XRM motorcycles.

Navacilla was the purok chairman of Purok Bardown in Sitio Gumayan, Brgy. Kingking, Pantukan Compostela Valley.

The said area is set to be affected by the entry of largescale mining company Nationwide Development Corporation (NADECOR)-San Augustin Services, Inc. in Pantukan, reported to start its full operation on open-pit mining on March this year.

Karapatan-Southern Mindanao secretary-general Hanimay Suazo denounced the incident, saying that “the only persons set to benefit from Navacilla’s demise are the mining corporations deadly eager to plunder mineral wealth and displace entire civilian communities, along with the military units paid by these corporations to bulldoze the people’s resistance to these corporate landgrabbing”.

Suazo fears that the killings “may rise to become a weekly statistics, given the nearing end of Aquino’s term.”

“Corporations are desperate to pave the road for their unopposed operations, and the military feels the same, in their bid to neutralize people’s organizations that are condemning their unjust operations against civilian communities.” Suazo said.

According to Suazo, there have been four victims of extra-judicial killings in Southern Mindanao in the month of January alone, and 54 so far under the Aquino regime.

Navacilla was a strong critic of the planned large-scale mining in the area of the growing militarization in Pantukan, which was deployed with two battalions previously under the command of notorious human rights violator Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan.

The 71st IBPA was among the three battalions forming the 701st Infantry Brigade, which was deployed in Southern Mindanao in 2010.

The 71st IB’s efforts were augmented by the 46th IB, which was deployed in 2014. Both units have complemented efforts to quell people’s movements in Pantukan, as mining companies set their sights in the rich mineral reserves in the said municipality.

PRESS RELEASE

KARAPATAN-SOUTHERN MINDANAO REGION

CONTACT PERSON: HANIMAY SUAZO

0932-198-6728

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Anti large-scale mining activist survives assassination attempt

 

CRITICAL CONDITION Teresita Navacilla, anti open-pit mining activist, in the hospital ICU hours after surviving an assassination attempt. Mining companies NADECOR and St. Augustine Mining Company are set to operate in the Pantukan area, affecting residents like Navacilla (Photo by Hanimay Suazo)
CRITICAL CONDITION Teresita Navacilla, anti open-pit mining activist, in the hospital ICU hours after surviving an assassination attempt. Mining companies NADECOR and St. Augustine Mining Company are set to operate in the Pantukan area, affecting residents like Navacilla (Photo by Hanimay Suazo)

TAGUM CITY- A staunch opponent of large-scale mining survived a killing attempt last January 27, but is still in critical condition.

Teresita Navacilla, 60, resident of Brgy. Kingking, Pantukan, Compostela Valley, was tending her store when a gunman fired two shots at her at around 8:30pm. Both bullets only grazed Navacilla, but flew past the back of her head and her nape.

Human rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao links the attempt on Navacilla’s life as an “attempt to silence the person for her opposition against the pending entry of Nationwide Development Corporation (NADECOR) and St. Augustine Gold and Copper Limited, both largescale and foreign mining companies that will scale-up its operations this March covering 1,656 hectares in Pantukan municipality.”

Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR, said that the killers could have come from the 46th IB, who according to her “have been on a rampage in Pantukan lately, arresting innocent civilians and portraying them as members of the NPA, and assaulting human rights of progressive leaders in the area as well. They are targeting those small-scale miners, farmers and Lumads of Mansaka tribe who are opposing the entry and full operation of NADECOR and St. Augustine Mining Companies.”

Suazo claimed that the attack on Navacilla “could happen to other organizations and individuals strongly against environmental plunder and destruction.”

She added that the presence of the 46th IB in Pantukan is yet another manifestation of economic plunder, resulting to militarization of otherwise peaceful civilian communities.

“The 46th IB was originally a Palparan battalion operating in Northern Samar. It was assigned in Maguindanao before finally being deployed to Pantukan under the 10th IDPA last 2014.”

“If there’s any proof that the militarization of Mindanao is not to hunt the NPA but to crush progressive organizations resisting encroachment of foreign businesses, it’s the existence of the 46th IB and the recent assaults against anti-foreign large-scale mining activists,” Suazo concluded.

In 2015, Isabello Tindasan, leader of Compostela Farmer’s Association, survived two shooting incidents against him by military elements under the 66th IBPA in Compostela, Compostela Valley. Tindasan and his organization are vehement in opposing the entry of Cojuangco-owned largescale mining, the Agusan Petroleum Mining Company in the area.

Early this year, Renante Mantos, leader of Hugpong sa Mag-uuma sa Walog Compostela (HUMAWAC) or Assembly of Farmers in Compostela Valley, was filed with trumped-up charges of serious illegal detention of his own neighbors. Elements of the 71st IBPA are suspected to be behind the charges.

 

###

Bloody week as three killed in Davao region

53RD IN AQUINO'S REGIME Christopher Matibay, a peasant leader who was part of last year's Manilakbayan ng Mindanao, was laid to rest by his family and friends as they shouted for justice for his death. (Photo by Kilab Multimedia)
53RD IN AQUINO’S REGIME Christopher Matibay, a peasant leader who was part of last year’s Manilakbayan ng Mindanao, was laid to rest by his family and friends as they shouted for justice for his death. (Photo by Kilab Multimedia)

DAVAO CITY — The human rights group Karapatan Southern Mindanao condemned the killing of a lumad farmer leader in Davao Oriental last week, bringing the count of extrajudicial killings in Davao Region to three in January in just a week’s time.

The latest victim is Christopher  Matibay, 43 years old and leader of the Typhoon Pablo survivors group Barug Katawhan in the municipality of Baganga, Davao Oriental, who was shot dead last January 18.

Matibay was one of the leaders from Davao Oriental who joined last year’s Manilakbayan ng Mindanao to raise support to Typhoon Pablo survivors neglected by government.

Matibay’s wife recounted the incident took place around 4 pm at Brgy. Lambajon when she was with her husband waiting at a waiting shed when they spotted a motorcycle riding person stopping few meters away from them.

Her husband warned her that the driver was an intelligence officer with alias “Mike” who was tailing him in the past, and   told her to go ahead of him.

After taking a few steps, she heard gunshots and saw the “Mike” driving away and her husband already sprawled on the ground, dead with three gunshot wounds in the body.

Karapatan-SMR secretary-general Hanimay Suazo condemned Matibay’s killings, which is the third extrajudicial killing for the month of January in a span of one week.

“With three deaths in a week, this shows that the Aquino regime is hell-bent to attack leaders of progressive groups with legitimate cries against his government’s ineptness,” Suazo said.

Another peasant leader, Ricky Peñaranda from Mati City, was shot dead last January 11. A 15-year old lumad student, Alibando Tingkas from Talaingod was killed by suspected paramilitary Alamara members last January 17.

“From Ricky Peñaranda to Alibando Tingkas and now Christopher Matibay, the killings proliferate. This is happening because of the Aquino regime’s nod to the silencing of people’s leaders, as highlighted in its “Whole of the Nation Initiative” in the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan,” Suazo added.

Matibay’s participation in the protest caravan played a part in his slay, Suazo said.

“We demand justice for Christopher Matibay, and also to those who went before him for asserting the rights and welfare of Tyhoon Pablo survivors, whom the government had neglected and unjustly demonized as NPA supporters when they decried the lack of support for their plight,” said Suazo.

Matibay is the third member of Barug Katawhan to be gunned down in Baganga, the first being Cristina Jose in 2013, followed by Felix Basig last year.

 

###

 

PRESS RELEASE

KARAPATAN-SOUTHERN MINDANAO REGION

CONTACT PERSON: HANIMAY SUAZO

0932-198-6728

_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

Recent trumped-up charges in Southern Mindanao against farmers decried

 

COMVAL PRESS CON
VICTIMS SPEAK OUT Angelito Chavez (holding microphone) speaks before the media in a press conference organized by Karapatan-SMR today, January 19. On Chavez’s right is Renante Mantos, co-accused in the latest trumped-up charges against progressive leaders denouncing militarization in the countryside. Chavez and Mantos were accused of serious illegal detention of six individuals last January 6. Both men belied the charges, saying that their neighbors and co-workers could readily attest that they did not participate in the abduction. Along with them are other victims and family of the victims of trumped-up charges in the province of Compostela Valley. (Photo by Hanimay Suazo, caption by Kiko Martinez, Karapatan-SMR)

DAVAO CITY- Human rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao decried the first cases of trumped-up charges filed against a farmer activists who were vocal against military presence in their town of Maco, Compostela Valley.

Charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention against Reynante Mantos, Angelito Chavez, and Allan Montecalvo, all residents of Brgy. Malamodao, Municipality of Maco, Compostela Valley Province.

Six complainants were identified by media reports claiming that Mantos and his companions are all members of New People’s Army (NPA) in the area, a claim that Karapatan refutes.

“The victims of this new round of trumped-up charges are all known as human rights defenders. They have publicly participated in street protests, mass gatherings and media exposures against the military presence in their municipality and in the province,” said Karapatan SMR Secretary General Hanimay Suazo.

Reynante Mantos is the current chairperson of Hugpong sa mga Mag-uuma sa Walog Compostela (HUMAWAC), an affiliate of a peasant organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in southern Mindanao. While Angelito Chavez is an active member of HUMAWAC and Allan Montecalvo is the spokesperson of Indug Kautawan (People Rise Up), organization of environmental defenders in Compostela Valley.

“Mantos has been attending mass actions calling for the removal of AFP troops in civilian communities in the province of Compostela Valley. More importantly, he was a participant in last year’s Manilakbayan ng Mindanao in support of Lumad’s cause,” Suazo said.

Suazo questions the motive of the complainants, as she identified one of the complainant, Aina Grace Ombilayan, is in a relationship with a soldier of the 71st Infantry Battalion deployed in Maco.

She said the charges against Mantos, Chavez and Montecalvo “are not isolated cases.  The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) through the 10th Infantry Division, Philippine Army has been specializing in filing trumped-up charges and their legal offensives against community human rights defenders.”

Karapatan SMR noted they have documented 63 trumped-up cases against activists and human rights defenders in Davao Region.

“This is part of the special grand design of the counter-insurgency Oplan Bayanihan of the AFP-BS Aquino administration through their whole of the nation initiative (WNI) and social pressure tactics by using the government agencies through the police, prosecutor’s office, and the courts to repress human rights defenders and quell people’s resistance”, said Suazo.

 

###

 

PRESS RELEASE

KARAPATAN-SOUTHERN MINDANAO REGION

CONTACT PERSON: HANIMAY SUAZO

0932-198-6728

_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

Peasant Leader and Lumad Student Latest EJK’s of 2016

TINGKAS EJK MOB

DAVAO CITY- A human rights group slammed the killings of a peasant leader in Mati City and a 15-year old lumad student from Talaingod, Davao del Norte, the first cases of extrajudicial killings in Davao region this year.

Ricky Penaranda, chairman of Fisherman Landless Association and member of Indug Kautawan, was gunned down in Dona Rosa, Brgy. Central, Mati City on January 11.

Penaranda had just came from settling a case of a farmer illegally arrested in a land dispute. He was riding a motorcycle when two men riding in tandem shot him at the back. A witness said the gunmen, with their faces covered with caps and handkerchiefs, shouted at him: “Isog jud ka ha! Makiglantugi jud ka!” (“You’re brave eh! You really want to fight!”).

Meanwhile, Alindang Tingkas, a student of the Salugpongan Community Learning Center in Sitio Laslasakan, Talaingod, Davao del Norte, was gunned down by members of the paramilitary Alamara last January 16.

Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Secretary-General Hanimay Suazo condemned these first cases of extra-judicial killings in Southern Mindanao.  “We condemn in the highest terms these two killings, as they once again reflect the poor status of human rights in the country,” Suazo said.

Suazo said that the primary motive on the killing of Penaranda was clearly due to his involvement in the helping peasants in their land struggle.

She also criticized the Aquino government for its lack of instituting reforms and protection of the welfare of peasants and other marginalized groups such as the indigenous peoples.

“Apart from the lack of will to protect poor peasants, the Aquino regime is also rife with impunity for extra-judicial killings, particularly against those who stand up for the rights of the oppressed,” she said.

She also condemned the killing of Tingkas by the Alamara, which she said is backed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines for pushing its Oplan Bayanihan campaign.

“The continuing support of the AFP to the Alamara grants it impunity and seemingly endless opportunities to terrorize the people. Truly, the AFP’s “Whole of the Nation Initiative” targets civilians and not combatants, as shown in the death of Tingkas. Tingkas’ aspirations for education ran in contrast to the AFP’s interests, who wish that lumad communities would remain uneducated so as to easily allow the entry of mining corporations in lumad ancestral lands.”

Karapatan also blamed Alamara for the killing of a Talaingod Lumad leader, Datu Manlero Landahay last year.

###

 

PRESS RELEASE

KARAPATAN-SOUTHERN MINDANAO REGION

CONTACT PERSON: HANIMAY SUAZO

0932-198-6728