Pantukan probe confirms boy was a civilian, other military atrocities noted

RECONSTRUCTING A fellow miner recounts how Ronel Paas took cover in nearby ball-mill equipment before a bullet plunged his chest. Human rights group Karapatan-SMR claims that Paas was a small-scale miner and a civilian, contrary to the branding by the military that he was an NPA (Photo by Ilyas Rondag)
RECONSTRUCTING A fellow miner recounts how Ronel Paas took cover in nearby ball-mill equipment before a bullet plunged his chest. Human rights group Karapatan-SMR claims that Paas was a small-scale miner and a civilian, contrary to the branding by the military that he was an NPA (Photo by Ilyas Rondag)

The military is lying over the child-warrior story and is responsible for the killing of a miner in an operation in Pantukan, Compostela Valley. This was revealed by the national humanitarian mission after a two-day probe on the area.

The mission, composed of 100 participants coming from Davao, Manila and other parts of Davao Region, documented testimonies from villagers in Post Four, Barangay Napnapan accusing the 46th Infantry Battalion for the killing of small-scale miner Ronel Paas and the wounding of a 14-year old boy in the area.

“This is a clear testament that the people are resolved to bring justice will overwhelm the efforts of these military lapdogs to prevent the truth from being known,” said Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-Southern Mindanao, the lead group of the mission.

Suazo said the military covered up the incidents by claiming Paas and the boy were members of the revolutionary group New People’s Army.

She said the incident dampens the 30th EDSA People Power commemoration Thursday as ‘Martial Law’ style terror in the rural areas continue.

“It is saddening that as we commemorate the 30th year of EDSA People Power, this supposed occasion of celebrating freedom is eclipsed with denial of human rights by state forces. Militarization has only increased decades after the Martial Law, in the regime of a freedom fighter’s son,” Suazo lamented.

She said the mission uncovered the attacks against the community was due to their strong resistance against mining multinational St. Augustine Copper and Gold Ltd – Nadecor.

The group also assailed the burning of the Manobo evacuee shelter and student dormitory in UCCP Haran on Wednesday as incidents similar to Martial Law were communities come under attack.

Suazo also assailed the harassment of the military on the mission.  She said soldiers in civilian clothes were seen in the community, standing guard near houses and barangay offices.

“We were able to push through with our mission despite the glaring presence of military personnel, who were outrageously clad in civilian clothes and standing guard near civilian structures,” Suazo said.

She also condemned the harassment the mission convoy experienced going back to Davao, as they were held by three military checkpoints set up by the 46th IB, 71st IB, 57th IB and 72nd IB.

“We were held for more than five minutes at each checkpoint. We see no other motive for such checkpoints, except for the intent of the military to harass and intimidate the missioners, and further delay the finalization of the investigation. Only monsters hiding their own bloody trail would do such a thing,” Suazo claimed.

Karapatan urges the government and the next president to stop adopting the IPSP Bayanihan counterinsurgency as it drives off and attacks civilian farmers and lumads.

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