Farmers in Comval strafed, arrested in last 30 days of Oplan Bayanihan

STRAFED AND GRAZED Aladen Rosquitos shows the scratches on the top of his head, after crawling far to evade the hour-long strafing of the military to their house. He says that elements of the 60th IB strafed his home. In the last days of Oplan Bayanihan, state violence rages on.
STRAFED AND GRAZED Aladen Rosquitos shows the scratches on the top of his head, after crawling far to evade the hour-long strafing of the military to their house. He says that elements of the 60th IB strafed his home. In the last days of Oplan Bayanihan, state violence rages on. (Photo by Lam Banuag, Karapatan – SMR)

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.

 

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Army officials not off the hook on torture, says HR group

EVANGELISTA BATCHAR

DAVAO CITY- Don’t just arrest the Cafgus, but the Army officials as well.

This is what the human rights group Karapatan said after four Cafgu members were charged for abusing an indigenous farmer in Malita, Davao Occidental last week.

The group said there is accountability from the higher command of the Armed Forces in Mindanao over the incident.

Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan – Southern Mindanao, said the Cafgu were sacrificial lambs.

“These armed auxiliaries and Corporal Batolbatol have become the sacrificial lambs, in order for the 10th Infantry Division to project themselves as an agency who respect human rights. But the truth is, this division must be held accountable as well. They are the ones who placed these elements in the field in the first place,” Suazo said.

“These officers have willingly let loose their dogs which are the paramilitary to prey upon the people. This is not a simple case of lack of oversight; this harassment and physical assault is part of the systematic war against the people, Oplan Bayanihan.” Suazo added.

For this, Suazo reiterates the call to scrap Executive Order 546, the act that legalized the use of armed auxiliaries by the AFP.

Suazo also condemns that cases involving the military have been moving on a slow pace, at worse being dismissed.

“Till now, the cases of Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio, Roque Antivo, Juvy Capion, and the Paquibato farmers remain bereft of justice, even when the military’s bloody hand into these killings have been established in several occasions,” Suazo said.

She added that aside from hiding away from justice, the AFP is hiding also from issues of corruption based on Commission on Audit reports.

Karapatan urged the local government units and the Commission on Human Rights to stand up for the victims of human rights violations, that they should stay in their mandate to serve the people.

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Military abuse of elderly in Malita scored

POURING WATER A military element from the 72nd IB is pictured here pouring water over the head of Kaido, an elderly farmer in Malita, Davao Occidental. Karapatan-SMR urged government units to take action and bring perpetrators to justice. (Screencap from video posted on MindaNews website)
POURING WATER A military element from the 72nd IB is pictured here pouring water over the head of Kaido, an elderly farmer in Malita, Davao Occidental. Karapatan-SMR urged government units to take action and bring perpetrators to justice. (Screencap from video posted on MindaNews website)

DAVAO CITY –  The human rights group Karapatan Southern Mindanao dares the 10th Infantry Division to punish soldiers and CAFGU members caught on video abusing an old man in Mailta, Davao Occidental.

The video, uploaded on Facebook and on MindaNews, showed an old farmer on his knees while he was being poured water on the head by people identified by MindaNews as members of the Philippine Army’s 72nd Infantry Battalion.

“We condemn in highest terms this inhumane humiliation and injuries inflicted by Corporal Batolbatol and three other soldiers.  Their act show the very rotten nature and disrespect of human rights by the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” said Karapatan SMR Secretary-General Hanimay Suazo.

Suazo added that the soldiers caught on video “are not fit to carry their uniform and arms and call themselves protectors of the people. Which also goes the same with their higher ups who deny and hide their atrocities.”

Reacting on the statement from the 10th ID spokesman that justice will be given on the matter, she stressed that “the guilty should be placed behind bars. Only when they have been relieved of their duties and served punishment will true justice be served.”

Suazo feared that the 10th ID may resort to pressure and pay off the victims’ family to keep the latter from pursuing the case.

“We remember the rape victim by the 68th Infantry Battalion in Bukidnon was given thousands of pesos just to settle their atrocity.  It is a meager amount compared to the trauma and indignity she encountered in her rapists’ hands,” exclaimed Suazo.

Suazo said these incidents exposes the reality of the AFP’s peace and development programs are a sham with abuses happening.

“Contrary to its claims of peace and development under Oplan Bayanihan, it is state brutality at its worst against elderly, children, and women. The AFP does not discern or choose who they want to victimize,” she said.

Suazo also asks the local government of Malita to act and protect the victims and other farmers from the military.

 

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Women defenders, lumads targets of military abuse

DANCE AGAINST MILITARIZATION Over 500 women joined in the International Women's Day celebration in the Rizal Park to call for an end to militarization in the region (Photo by Lam Banuag, Karapatan-SMR)
DANCE AGAINST MILITARIZATION Over 500 women joined in the International Women’s Day celebration in the Rizal Park to call for an end to militarization in the region (Photo by Lam Banuag, Karapatan-SMR)

DAVAO CITY  – Women rights advocates here celebrate International Women’s Day with dance and protests against the military attacks against women lumad and human rights defenders in Davao Region.

The human rights alliance Karapatan Southern Mindanao led a rally attended by 500 people in Freedom Park to address military attacks against lumad communities in the hinterlands of Davao.

They noted that majority of the 700 Manobos evacuees from Talaingod and Kapalong, Davao del Norte and from Kitaotao, Bukidnon now staying in UCCP Haran in Davao City are women, some of them giving birth in difficult conditions in Haran.

“Childbearing becomes more difficult for them since they are not in an environment they are comfortable and familiar with,” says Karapatan Southern Mindanao Secretary General Hanimay Suazo.

But Suazo said the worse atrocity committed by soldiers was the rape of a lumad mother in Bukidnon in 2014.

Suazo said the military soldier accused of the rap has yet to face charges and remains with his unit. “Private First Class Beni

DANCE AGAINST MILITARIZATION Over 500 women joined in the International Women's Day celebration in the Rizal Park to call for an end to militarization in the region (Photo by Lam Banuag, Karapatan-SMR)
DANCE AGAINST MILITARIZATION Over 500 women joined in the International Women’s Day celebration in the Rizal Park to call for an end to militarization in the region (Photo by Lam Banuag, Karapatan-SMR)

ie Blancada has yet to manifest his presence against any legal body. Blancada is the suspect of a rape of a mother in Bukidnon last 2014,” said Sauzo.

Suazo slammed the Army’s 10th Infantry Division for failing to bring Blancada to courts.

“We stand that the AFP, particularly the 10th ID, is coddling these rapists to prevent further tainting of their already untrusted image. If it was earnest in pursuing justice, it would have mobilized all its elements to purge criminals among its ranks. But that would be impossible, given that the current counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan makes the AFP prime perpetrators of human rights violations,” Suazo said.

Women defenders such as Suazo are also facing harassment in the form of trumped-up charges to discourage their advocacies.

“My work as human rights defender has placed me at the crosshairs of the military, both in legal and armed aspects,” Suazo said.

Other advocates facing cases include Sheena Duazo, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayang Southern Mindanao, and Malaya Genotiva of Anakbayan SMR.

“These baseless charges were made to discourage these women from pursuing their progressive cause, particularly in helping the lumad evacuees in the region,” Suazo said.

She also noted that 26 out of 107 activists facing trumped up cases are women. Of the 69 political prisoners in the country, four are women. Nine of 57 victims of extrajudicial killings are women.

“But far from being deterred, the more emboldened these women have become to fight the deceitful and anti-people nature of the military and the Aquino government,” Suazo said.

“The attacks against us are just small compared to the communities facing assault from militarization, or from mining and plantations plundering their land.  This is part of our commitment to pursue justice and rights for all,” Suazo said.

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PRESS RELEASE

CONTACT PERSON: HANIMAY SUAZO

SECRETARY-GENERAL, KARAPATAN-SMR

The People Will Paint the Town Red against This Yellow Martial Law

WAR AGAINST THE PEOPLE Lumad who sought shelter in UCCP Haran after their communities were militarized once again experience an assault to their human rights. Pictured above is Demon Manayab, a two-year old child who sustained burns from the fire (Photo by Kilab Multimedia).
WAR AGAINST THE PEOPLE Lumad who sought shelter in UCCP Haran after their communities were militarized once again experience an assault to their human rights. Pictured above is Demon Manayab, a two-year old child who sustained burns from the fire (Photo by Kilab Multimedia).

(Statement on the commemoration of the EDSA 1 Revolution and the current human rights violations in the region)

It has been 30 years after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship, yet not much has changed for the people.

Human rights continue to plague lumads, peasants, agri-workers especially in Southern Mindanao where 57 defenders against mining, plantations and militarization here have been killed by suspected state forces.  Seven of them were killed in 30 days from January to February.

Sectors such as church people, students, professionals, and others are under assault by fascist state forces, who label this enraged population as threats to national security.They display their sickening brutality with trumped-up charges against leaders of people’s organizations.

For them, if they cannot silence the defenders, they might as well burden them with legal actions, thus bastardizing the legal system and mock our democratic rights as a people.

In the past six years, Southern Mindanao has seen the increase of six battalions deployed to the region, along with even more sickening tactics to quash the people’s defiance. The recent torching incident in the lumad evacuation camp in UCCP Haran and the military attacks in Sitio Diat, Post Four, Brgy. Napnapan in Compostela Valley show how savage the Aquino regime is.

The dark days of Martial Law may be over, but the sickening rule of the military over the countrysides and the attack on our legal democratic rights show that the abuses of the state continue to haunt us.

But where there is oppression, it breeds resistance. Where the attacks and plunder continue, so does the peoples’ movement grow. Everyday more Filipinos are awakened to the horrors of state fascism, to the corruption in government, and ineptness over the many ills in society.

The communities in Southern Mindanao may see zones of military rule and plunder from mining and plantations. But more are taking on these tyrants in the streets and in their own land.  The people’s continuing resistance will show that democracy and human rights are superior over the desperate attempts of the regime to silence dissent.

The people of Southern Mindanao do not forget the dark days of Martial Law, for they are living in the same worse conditions under the yellow skies of the Aquino. And so, the resistance continues. We survived Marcos’ Martial Law. We will do so again in Aquino’s regime.

 

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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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National mission to investigate HR abuses in Pantukan

RONEL PAAS
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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“People-centered approach indeed, as civilians killed, not the NPA”- Karapatan Southern Mindanao

REAL OBJECTIVES Missioners for a humanitarian-peace mission in Sitio Diat Post 4, Brgy. Tagdangua, Pantukan Compostela Valley inspected by elements of the 46th IB. Karapatan claims that the real targets of the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan are the civilian populations, not the NPA (Photo by Samuel dela Cruz)
REAL TARGETS Missioners for a humanitarian-peace mission for Sitio Diat Post 4, Brgy. Tagdangua, Pantukan Compostela Valley inspected by elements of the 46th IB in a checkpoint in Brgy. Tibagon. Karapatan claims that the real targets of the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan are the civilian populations, not the NPA (Photo by Samuel dela Cruz)

DAVAO CITY- Human rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao sounded alarm today, over the quick rate of extra-judicial killings in the region and series of other human rights violations by the military.

From January 11 to February 9, seven individuals ranging from peasant leaders to ordinary civilians, were gunned down either by suspected state agents, or men in uniform.

The military have been quick to deny involvement to the killings, or brand the victims as NPA, but Karapatan said otherwise.

“We are here today to expose to the public the dual atrocities of the military: they have killed civilians, and unjustly labeled them as NPA casualties so as to avoid any accountability for their crimes,” said Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR.

Along with mass leaders from various grassroots organizations, Suazo enumerated the series of extra-judicial killings today, narrating the civilian status of the victims and their participation in actions condemning state fascism and inaction.

“Farmers, anti-mining, activists, and lumad students seem to be the recent appetite of the war monster that is the Oplan Bayanihan,” Suazo lamented.

Suazo cites the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan as the blueprint “to exterminate the people’s resistance,” saying that its people-centric approach made certain the death of ordinary Filipinos.

“By borrowing the ‘people-centered’ approach from the US counterinsurgency guide, the mercenary AFP has made progressive organizations and innocent civilians its primary target. The presence of the NPA is mere pretext to legitimizing their operations in the countryside,” Suazo claimed.

Despite the “terror sowed by military”, Suazo asserted that peoples’ movements “remain undeterred, even more emboldened.”

“The corpses are piling up, but so is the rage, unity, and realization amongst the people that the only way to end the killings is to stand up for their rights and struggle against the Aquino regime, the ultimate killer of the Filipino people,” Suazo said.

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PRESS RELEASE

KARAPATAN-SOUTHERN MINDANAO REGION

CONTACT PERSON: HANIMAY SUAZO

0932-198-6728