DAVAO CITY- With less than a month before the Aquino regime steps down from power, farmers in Compostela Valley reported human rights violations committed against them.
Karapatan – Southern Mindanao reports two farmers and their families survived a strafing incident committed by military elements in Brgy. Kapatagan, Laak, Compostela Valley, last June 2.
In another incident, a peasant was illegally arrested in Mawab and, was slapped with trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms last June 1.
Surviving the strafing were Aladen Etol Rosquitos and Randy Rosquitos, who managed to escape the shooting spree by alleged elements of the 60th IB, who fired at their houses at around 4:30 am.
According to Randy, he saw around 25 armed men in camouflage uniforms about 30 meters away from their home, whom he heard whispering before they started strafing their houses.
Randy and Aladen claim that it was their cousin, Marlon Rosquitos Samson, who was behind the attack to their life.
According to the two, Marlon is a thief with cases reported in Sawata Police Station, San Isidro, Laak, and also served as a guide for the 60th IB in counter-insurgency operations. Farmers said they heard soldiers tell Marlon that he would be accepted as a regular soldier if he could help capture a New People’s Army leader.
Two other farmers, Nikomedes Tapilot and Romar Zamora, were also illegally held and interrogated by the 60th IB troops that day. Soldiers took their pictures and confiscated their chickens.
Soldiers took Randy’s backpack, cellphone and hammocks claiming these belonged to the NPA whom they engaged in a firefight.
Randy and Aladen said they felt fear after hearing threats that eight farmers would be killed after the murder of Paul Saludaga, another member of the Farmers’ Association in Compostela.
Meanwhile, Leonardo Wamilda, 33, leader of Mawab Farmers’ Association, was taken away by elements of the CIDT-SOU, and detained at the police station in Mawab, before he was brought to the Nabunturan Municipal Police Station and charged with violation of RA 10591.
Wamilda was a barangay tanod in their area, and a member of the Mawab Farmers’ Association.
Karapatan said that the arrest of Wamilda shows the continuing attacks against members of progressive organizations in the countryside.
“From start to finish, the Aquino regime is untiring in sowing terror and violating human rights of the people. There is no let-up on the AFP’s and police’s fascist operations that make mockery of the law and unjustly put civilians behind bars,” Karapatan said in a statement.
“It is further disgusting that the AFP is using criminals as its accomplices, and provide them with impunity in return for the services they render in the course of military operations that make no distinction between combatants and civilians,” it added.
“Clearly, Aquino and the AFP are eager to rack up their achievements before the current administration’s term ends. That means civilians are targeted for attacks, then branded as NPA’s, just so the military can list something in their statistics”.
Karapatan challenged the incoming Duterte presidency to end illegal arrests, drop trumped up charges against members of progressive organizations, and end militarization in the countryside.