DAVAO CITY- In reply to the military’s claims and legal threats, human rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao bared victims and witnesses to human rights violations they have recorded last January.
In a press conference, victims of physical assaults by the 46th IB in Sitio Lugpaton, Brgy. Kingking, Pantukan Compostela Valley narrated how they were helplessly kicked and beaten around during the combat operations of the said AFP unit last January 18.
Some women, also from the same area, recounted how their homes were violently entered by the military. According to them, their belongings were either sacked or destroyed.
Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR, said that they are going to take legal action against the military elements involved in the human rights violations.
“We will not let this pass. The victims are here today to declare their intent to press charges. We have names of those involved in the physical assault and violation of domicile. We will make sure that accountability is exacted for the victims of human rights violations,” she said.
Asked regarding the claim of the military that the recent killing of anti-mining activist Teresita Navacilla was due to conflicts arising from debts, Suazo replied that “it is the tactic of the AFP to depoliticize extra-judicial killings, in order to hide the larger issues of environmental plunder and people’s resistance, which they have been paid to put down.”
“The killing of the lumad student Alibando Tingkas was claimed to be a product of tribal war. This was to neutralize the fact that it is the AFP-backed Alamara that did the killing, so as to terrify the Talaingod Manobo into conceding their protection of their ancestral lands,” she added.
“In the case of Navacilla, her death was branded as mere financial trouble. While Alex Josol’s frustrated killing incident on January 28 was trivialized as a vehicular accident, to cover up the crime and for the perpetrators get away with impunity. In reality, Navacilla’s death and Josol’s assassination plot were due to their stance against mining and militarization. Once again, the AFP is clouding the issue with trivialities so as to blind the public about the real plight of the lumad and peasants,” she claimed.
Suazo said the “red-baiting” of the AFP against KARAPATAN is meant to discredit our organization, due to the broad public gained after last year’s Manilakbayan for victims of human rights violations.
“Their true nature had been exposed. The people will not be fooled. No one else is set to gain from the military’s statements but the mining corporations out to displace lumads and peasants from their lands,” Suazo asserted.
“Furthermore, the manner and pattern of killings are same: riding-in-tandem assassins, targeting leaders of progressive organizations.”
“The AFP is fooling no one else but its own fascist elements and the cronies of the anti-people and anti-lumad Aquino regime,” Suazo concluded.