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.
We are reposting the Press Release of PASAKA-SMR on the misrepresentation by the Eastern Mindnao Command of UN Special Rapporteur on Internally Displaced Persons Chaloka Beyani.
DAVAO CITY – PASAKA-SMR decried today the efforts of the military to misinform the public by maliciously twisting the stand of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s) on the evacuees in UCCP Haran.
The military propagated in the media thru their Press Release quoting UN Rapporteur, Dr. Chaloka Beyani saying that the lumad evacuees are “manipulated”.
Graham Fox, Dr. Chaloka Beyani’s media officer clarified to Interaksyon editor, Nonoy Espina, that he “does not recognize the quote attributed to Mr. Beyani by the AFP”.
Fox said that “the special rapporteur was explicit in his discussion with the AFP representatives on multiple occasions that the persons concerned (lumad evacuees) should under no circumstances be considered to fall into the category of trafficked persons.”
He further stated that “it is the Special Rapporteur’s understanding, based on the first hand interviews with the Indigenous People in Haran, that they relocated to this facility freely in response to the militarization of their areas and forced recruitment into paramilitary groups operating under the auspices of the AFP.”
Fox said that the AFP statement “is consequently a gross misrepresentation of the position of the Special Rapporteur.”
Kerlan Fanagel, PASAKA-SMR chair, said that the AFP “has sunk to the deepest levels of misguided action, in its move to sow dispute in the efforts to bring into light the poor plight of over 700 lumad evacuees staying in UCCP Haran.”
Fanagel said, “By twisting facts, it has not only posed a danger to the evacuees due to the possible perception that these lumads are being used for monetary schemes, when in reality their statements about militarization and abuse by state forces are true; it has also looked down on the intelligence of every Filipino, who deserves to know the truth of the operations of its country’s military force.”
“The government has insulted Dr. Beyani, and the entire mission of pursuing peace. The military’s insincerity towards giving protection to the nation is clearly reflected here,” he added.
He also condemned high-ranking officers of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EMC) for their recent “ill-planned publicity stunt”. “This proves that the officers of the Phil. Army like Col. Harold Cabunoc and officials of Eastern Mindanao Command, particularly Cpt. Alberto Caber, Col. Eduardo Gubat, and Lt. Gen. Aurelio Baladad are more than willing to shamefully employ every dirty tactic under its disposal in an effort to manipulate public opinion, regardless if there is any truth to their claims.”
“This conjures in mind psychotic individuals who are unable to realize concrete situations and see the human rights dimension in these. And we cannot have liars like them overseeing the daily operations of thousands of individuals armed with deadly weapons,” Fanagel said.
He said that, “Their continuing existence in public office constitutes a grave threat to the human rights situation of the people all over Mindanao.”
AUGUST 12, 2015
CONTACT PERSON: KERLAN FANAGEL