National mission to investigate HR abuses in Pantukan

BLOODIED GOLD The ID of Ronel Paas, who was hit in the chest after elements of the 46th IB indiscriminately fired upon the civilians in Sitio Diat, Post Four, Brgy. Napnapan, Pantukan Compostela Valley. Paas was an abantero (one who digs the ground away), contrary to the claims of the military that he was among the wounded NPA in an engagement between the military and the said group last February 9. (Photo by Hanimay Suazo)

DAVAO CITY- Human rights group Karapatan-SMR conducted a fact-finding mission today to Sitio Diat, Post Four, Brgy. Napnapan, Pantukan Compostela Valley.

Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR, said that they have delegates from all over the country, and massed up with local organizations of peasants and small-scale miners in Pantukan.

According to Suazo, over 500 individuals from all over the country have come together for the mission.

“The spike of extra-judicial killings by the military has made it necessary to mobilize this much people, in order for us to show the urgent pressure by the public to ascertain the details of the human rights violations in Pantukan,” Suazo said.

Suazo also said that the participants of the mission echo the calls for the end foreign large-scale mining in the municipality.

“It can be recalled that NADECOR- St. Augustine Services, Inc. has just been granted permission to operate in Pantukan this month. We believe that there is a link between the local resistance movement against the impending ecological disaster and and displacement brought about by this company,” Suazo claimed.

“Also, that this parallels the increased deployment in the area, explains the recent cases of extra-judicial killings, and the brutal disregard of human rights in general,” she added.

“Through this mission, we are certain that we can finally see for ourselves the situation in the area, which unfortunately had been hamletted by the military in the previous week. We will take proper legal action after we have made our mission report. We are confident that the people of Pantukan are one with us in our goal to providing justice for the victims and protecting the environment.”

It can be recalled that the initial mission into Post Four was ended early due to the staged gunfire by the elements of the 46th IB.

Ronel Paas, 35 years old, was the latest victim of extra-judicial killing in Pantukan. According to reports, he was a small-scale miner who was shot in the chest, after the military fired indiscriminately into the civilian population.

Paas was still alive when he was brought down, but thorough medical aid was delayed, as he was held at a military detachment for over an hour, before the military finally released him.

A 14-year old kid was also hit in the leg during the said indiscriminate firing, and was taken into custody by the 10th ID, PA. Both the child and Paas has since then been labeled as NPA by the military.



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