Army stages ‘gunfire’ to bar HR group from humanitarian mission

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SNIPER ALERT? A machine-gun wielding soldier from the 46th IB casually leans on a tree and takes cover through the leaves as sniper fire comes from his left side. Karapatan-SMR staff were barred from entering Sitio Diat, Post Four, Brgy. Tibagon, Pantukan Compostela Valley, due to the staged firing incident by the said military unit. (Photo by Kim Nguyen, Karapatan SMR)

TAGUM CITY- Karapatan – Southern Mindanao decried the staged “sniping and gunfire” Thursday of the Army’s 46th Infantry Battalion that prevented their team from conducting a humanitarian mission in Brgy. Napnapan, Pantukan, Compostela Valley.

Hanimay Suazo, Karapatan secretary-general, said that around 30 missioners went on this mission coordinated with local officials to check on incidents of indiscriminate firing by the 46th IB that killed one civilian and wounded three others. But they were barred by the soldiers on a checkpoint.

“We arrived by 2:30 pm at the checkpoint made by the 46th IB around 200 meters from the community. They kept on repeating the area was not safe for our entry,” Suazo said.

After that, they heard three shots in the vicinity. “We heard three loud shots. Some of us stooped down for cover, but we were surprised to see the military standing their ground, like nothing happened.”

“It was in the second volley of shots that they told us to take cover by the side of the road, repeatedly saying that we would not be in danger.

After that, more shots followed and a certain “Fernandez” from the 46th IB told us that he could not vouch for our safety if we pushed through, in a pretentious tone,” Suazo said.

Suazo said that the scenario was dubious one, as the soldiers did not stay alert to protect them or engage the direction where the shots were fired. ”

“There were several shots, about eight of them, yet they seemed not to be concerned. They did not react where the shots came from. It was really meant to harass our team from entering the militarized community.”

She even saw a soldier with a machine gun laying on a tree.

“Either it was staged, or they are just imbeciles who forgot who to conduct combat and protect civilians, or it could be both,” she quipped.

She said sound of gunfire were muffled and were uphill near the peace mission contingents.

Suazo said that they did not continue to enter the community, but clarified that the reason was because they might be hit by the 46th IB just as what happened to residents in Napnapan.

“We cut short our mission owing to the possibility that we could be strafed by the 46th IB and charged us as collateral damage or, worst case scenario, tagged us NPA rebels. They had done it just this week, with Ronel Paas, a smallscale miner whom they shot and killed, and maimed 14-year-old-boy, a gold flusher.

Both were branded as NPAs,” Suazo clarified.

But she said their experience was able to expose the nature of the 46th IB as deceptive and trigger-happy. She said “the presence of the military in the area only goes to show that the community is being hamletted by the military. Instead of going after the NPA, they are staying in civilian structures, using the people around as shields.”

“The real danger in Post Four is not the alleged presence of the NPA, but the gross disrespect for human rights of the 46th IB, as seen in this mock gunfire incident. By such nature they are terrorizing people in the area, thus displacing them in order for largescale mining companies to plunder the livelihood of the small-scale miners, the farmers and the lumads in the area,” she added.

Karapatan demands the pullout of the 46th IB and hold those personnel accountable for the killing of Paas and wounding of three other civilians.

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Bloody pre-valentine season in Davao, as three killed

 

RAGE AND GRIEF Wife of Romel Paas shrieks at the foot of her husband, now a corpse after sustaining a gunshot wound to the chest. Paas was detained for over an hour at a military detachment in Brgy. Tibagon, Pantukan Compostela Valley, before he was permitted by the 46th IB to ride an ambulance. He was declared dead-on-arrival in the hospital. (Photo by Lam Banuag, Karapatan-SMR)
RAGE AND GRIEF Wife of Romel Paas shrieks at the foot of her husband, now a corpse after sustaining a gunshot wound to the chest. Paas was detained for over an hour at a military detachment in Brgy. Tibagon, Pantukan Compostela Valley, before he was permitted by the 46th IB to ride an ambulance. He was declared dead-on-arrival in the hospital. (Photo by Lam Banuag, Karapatan-SMR)

TAGUM CITY- Human rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao condemned the three recent cases of extra-judicial killings in the region, happening in a span of a week.

Alejandro Laya-og, 36 years old, a motorcycle driver from Maragusan, was gunned down last Sunday, February 7, 2016, at around 6pm. Laya-og was at the terminal in Brgy. Poblacion, Municipality of Maragusan, Compostela Valley Province, when an unidentified armed man shot him once in the back. The man then turned him over, fired one more time, hitting him in the head.

Laya-og was a member of the Kahugpungan sa Mag-uuma sa Magcagong (KAMAMA, Organization of Farmers in Magcagong), a farmer’s group criticizing the militarization in Maragusan and promoting farmers’ welfare. Laya-og also helped in the construction of lumad community school, Salugpongan Ta ‘Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center (STTICLC) in the area as requested by their local organization.

According to Laya-og’s wife, her husband already mentioned that men from the 25th IB had summoned him before and accused him as supporter of New People’s Army (NPA). Her husband mentioned three days before he was killed that he was being followed by suspicious looking men.

On February 9, Tuesday at noon time, Jennifer Albacite, on her mid-40s, was gunned down by still unknown individuals at Brgy. Poblacion, Compostela, Compostela Valley Province.

Companions of Albacite surmise that it was her sister, Jeannirose Porras, a staff of the Compostela Farmers’ Association (CFA), was the real target of the killing.

Officers and members of CFA has been red-tagged by 66th and 67th IBPA due to their opposition against the entry of Agusan Petroleum Mining Company (AgPet) and AFP’s Oplan Bayanihan counter-insurgency campaign, which has been targeting civilians and human rights defenders.

Around 3 pm of the same date, Ronel Paas, 35, a small-scale miner in Sitio Diat, Post Four, Brgy. Napnapan, Pantukan, Compostela Valley, was hit by a bullet in the chest after elements of the 46th IB went on an indiscriminate firing spree.

According to residents in the area, the 46th IB fired M203 grenades and bullets towards the civilian population, after failing to go after the NPA in the area.

Paas managed to survive his gunshot wound, but was held at the military detachment in Brgy. Tibagon, Pantukan, Compostela Valley. He was detained for an hour, and was finally released after his kin and co-workers presented ID’s confirming his civilian identity.

According to Paas’ wife, her husband was still alive at the military detachment, even pinching the men carrying him to hospital, weakly telling them to hurry up.

Two other casualties in the said area was a 14 year old boy, who was hit in the leg, and a woman who sustained a bullet in the chest. The location of the woman is kept confidential for the time being, while the boy was taken by the military to Camp Panacan in Davao City, then branded as NPA child warrior

Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR, condemned the rapid killings of civilians and progressive leaders.

“In Southern Mindanao, it’s countdown to genocide for mass leaders and civilians, as armed forces of the state continue to militarize rural areas”

Suazo claimed that most of the recent cases of extra-judicial killings were either “supporters of the alternative schools, opposition to foreign large-scale mining, and critics of the Oplan Bayanihan.”

Suazo added many civilians in Sitio Diat, Post-4 could readily attest to the civilian status of Paas and the 14 year old boy, while “only the military can parrot and believe their contrived truths that these men were NPA members. 10th IDPA-Eastern Mindanao Command is a pathological liar. They are branding civilians as NPAs in order to escape criminal liability which explains the worsening state of impunity in the Philippines.”

Suazo belied the claims of the military that they had no hand in the killing of Teresita Navacilla and frustrated murder on Alexander Josol, with the recent civilian injuries, illegal arrests and deaths in Pantukan.

“These killings in Pantukan add strength to our claim that the 46th IB is out to displace civilian communities, to pave way for large-scale mining in the area.”

According to Karapatan-SMR, there are already 57 victims of extra-judicial killings in the region since the BS Aquino regime took office.

“If there’s anything that this country is reminded of, it’s that Oplan Bayanihan is not against the NPA. It’s the state murdering its own people,” she concluded.

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PRESS RELEASE

February 10, 2016

KARAPATAN-SOUTHERN MINDANAO

CONTACT PERSON: HANIMAY SUAZO, SECRETARY-GENERAL

09321986728

HR victims back Karapatan claims; say they will file charges

DEFIANT Victims of human rights violations by the 46th IB, along with friends and family of the slain Ricky Penaranda and Christopher Matibay, raise their fists with Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR. The group said they will take legal action regarding the violations of the military (Photo by Emisa Toledo, Karapatan-SMR)
DEFIANT Victims of human rights violations by the 46th IB, along with friends and family of the slain Ricky Penaranda and Christopher Matibay, raise their fists with Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR. The group said they will take legal action regarding the violations of the military (Photo by Emisa Toledo, Karapatan-SMR)

 

DAVAO CITY- In reply to the military’s claims and legal threats, human rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao bared victims and witnesses to human rights violations they have recorded last January.

In a press conference, victims of physical assaults by the 46th IB in Sitio Lugpaton, Brgy. Kingking, Pantukan Compostela Valley narrated how they were helplessly kicked and beaten around during the combat operations of the said AFP unit last January 18.

Some women, also from the same area, recounted how their homes were violently entered by the military. According to them, their belongings were either sacked or destroyed.

Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR, said that they are going to take legal action against the military elements involved in the human rights violations.

“We will not let this pass. The victims are here today to declare their intent to press charges. We have names of those involved in the physical assault and violation of domicile. We will make sure that accountability is exacted for the victims of human rights violations,” she said.

Asked regarding the claim of the military that the recent killing of anti-mining activist Teresita Navacilla was due to conflicts arising from debts, Suazo replied that “it is the tactic of the AFP to depoliticize extra-judicial killings, in order to hide the larger issues of environmental plunder and people’s resistance, which they have been paid to put down.”

“The killing of the lumad student Alibando Tingkas was claimed to be a product of tribal war. This was to neutralize the fact that it is the AFP-backed Alamara that did the killing, so as to terrify the Talaingod Manobo into conceding their protection of their ancestral lands,” she added.

“In the case of Navacilla, her death was branded as mere financial trouble. While Alex Josol’s frustrated killing incident on January 28 was trivialized as a vehicular accident, to cover up the crime and for the perpetrators get away with impunity. In reality, Navacilla’s death and Josol’s assassination plot were due to their stance against mining and militarization. Once again, the AFP is clouding the issue with trivialities so as to blind the public about the real plight of the lumad and peasants,” she claimed.

Suazo said the “red-baiting” of the AFP against KARAPATAN is meant to discredit our organization, due to the broad public gained after last year’s Manilakbayan for victims of human rights violations.

“Their true nature had been exposed. The people will not be fooled. No one else is set to gain from the military’s statements but the mining corporations out to displace lumads and peasants from their lands,” Suazo asserted.

“Furthermore, the manner and pattern of killings are same: riding-in-tandem assassins, targeting leaders of progressive organizations.”

“The AFP is fooling no one else but its own fascist elements and the cronies of the anti-people and anti-lumad Aquino regime,” Suazo concluded.

 

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Karapatan staff tailed by army intelligence

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HUMAN RIGHTS THREAT A suspected intelligence agent sits beside one of the Karapatan-SMR staff, then covered his mouth, as if to relay information on his observations (Photo by Hanimay Suazo)

DAVAO CITY- Human rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao condemned the surveillance on them by suspected military intelligence forces.

Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR, said that the incident took place when she and three other staff members were meeting in a fast food center in Maa in the morning of January 30, a military intelligence sat on the table next to them.

Suazo identified the person of heavy built and was wearing camouflage trousers and eyes covered with sunglasses.

“The man was wearing shades, but it was obvious that he kept staring at us every now and then,” Suazo said.

“One of our staff recognized him as one of the intelligence agents present at Rivera Funeral Homes when they helped claim the body of NPA commander Leoncio “Parago” Pitao,” she added.

SEEN AGAIN The asset on the left, in red long-sleeves, was recognized by one of the Karapatan staff. His companion on the left is also an intelligence asset who kept taking photos of the family of Leoncio Pitao and the Karapatan staff that went with them. (Photo by Lam Banuag)
SEEN AGAIN The asset on the left, in red long-sleeves, was recognized by one of the Karapatan staff. His companion on the left is also an intelligence asset who kept taking photos of the family of Leoncio Pitao and the Karapatan staff that went with them. (Photo by Lam Banuag)

Suazo said the when the agent finished his meal, he called someone on his mobile phone and covered his mouth during the conversation.  Around this time they noticed another man wearing sunglasses and a cap standing outside the door across their table and was looking at them while texting on his phone.

“We stopped and moved out. But as we were walking, the man who sat beside us immediately called from his phone and covered his mouth once more. While the person outside kept watching us as we rode a taxicab,” Suazo said.

Suazo said with the recent spate of killings in Southern Mindanao this January, the harassment against human rights defenders are bound to happen.

“Our work as human rights defenders have earned us the same ire from the state and corporations who want to plunder our resources and repress our rights,” she said.

But Suazo said that they remain unflinching in their work. “We remain firm with our work to hold the Aquino government accountable for human rights violations and plunder of our natural resources.  We continue to call for the end of militarization and the attacks against human rights defenders,” she said.

Last year, three suspected intelligence agents of the military tried to force their way inside the Karapatan office.

Suazo is also facing trumped-up charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention for helping out the Manobo evacuees currently housed in the Haran compound in Davao City.

 

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Anti-mining woman activist dies three days after shooting; Karapatan condemns rise of killings

CRITICAL CONDITION Teresita Navacilla, anti open-pit mining activist, in the hospital ICU hours after surviving an assassination attempt. Mining companies NADECOR and St. Augustine Mining Company are set to operate in the Pantukan area, affecting residents like Navacilla (Photo by Hanimay Suazo)
CRITICAL CONDITION Teresita Navacilla, anti open-pit mining activist, in the hospital ICU hours after surviving an assassination attempt. Mining companies NADECOR and St. Augustine Mining Company are set to operate in the Pantukan area, affecting residents like Navacilla (Photo by Hanimay Suazo)

 

TAGUM CITY- Teresita Navacilla, anti-foreign large-scale mining activist, breathed her last in the early hours of January 30, after surviving the attack on her life last January 27.

Navacilla had returned that day from jail after visiting Giovanni Guitierez, a small-scale miner and her neighbor who was illegally arrested and branded as NPA by elements of the 46th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army.

By evening, a suspected military agent went to Navacilla’s store and fired two shots to her direction, which caught her in the nape and the back of her head. She was rushed to the hospital, after her attacker and his accomplices sped away in XRM motorcycles.

Navacilla was the purok chairman of Purok Bardown in Sitio Gumayan, Brgy. Kingking, Pantukan Compostela Valley.

The said area is set to be affected by the entry of largescale mining company Nationwide Development Corporation (NADECOR)-San Augustin Services, Inc. in Pantukan, reported to start its full operation on open-pit mining on March this year.

Karapatan-Southern Mindanao secretary-general Hanimay Suazo denounced the incident, saying that “the only persons set to benefit from Navacilla’s demise are the mining corporations deadly eager to plunder mineral wealth and displace entire civilian communities, along with the military units paid by these corporations to bulldoze the people’s resistance to these corporate landgrabbing”.

Suazo fears that the killings “may rise to become a weekly statistics, given the nearing end of Aquino’s term.”

“Corporations are desperate to pave the road for their unopposed operations, and the military feels the same, in their bid to neutralize people’s organizations that are condemning their unjust operations against civilian communities.” Suazo said.

According to Suazo, there have been four victims of extra-judicial killings in Southern Mindanao in the month of January alone, and 54 so far under the Aquino regime.

Navacilla was a strong critic of the planned large-scale mining in the area of the growing militarization in Pantukan, which was deployed with two battalions previously under the command of notorious human rights violator Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan.

The 71st IBPA was among the three battalions forming the 701st Infantry Brigade, which was deployed in Southern Mindanao in 2010.

The 71st IB’s efforts were augmented by the 46th IB, which was deployed in 2014. Both units have complemented efforts to quell people’s movements in Pantukan, as mining companies set their sights in the rich mineral reserves in the said municipality.

PRESS RELEASE

KARAPATAN-SOUTHERN MINDANAO REGION

CONTACT PERSON: HANIMAY SUAZO

0932-198-6728

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Anti large-scale mining activist survives assassination attempt

 

CRITICAL CONDITION Teresita Navacilla, anti open-pit mining activist, in the hospital ICU hours after surviving an assassination attempt. Mining companies NADECOR and St. Augustine Mining Company are set to operate in the Pantukan area, affecting residents like Navacilla (Photo by Hanimay Suazo)
CRITICAL CONDITION Teresita Navacilla, anti open-pit mining activist, in the hospital ICU hours after surviving an assassination attempt. Mining companies NADECOR and St. Augustine Mining Company are set to operate in the Pantukan area, affecting residents like Navacilla (Photo by Hanimay Suazo)

TAGUM CITY- A staunch opponent of large-scale mining survived a killing attempt last January 27, but is still in critical condition.

Teresita Navacilla, 60, resident of Brgy. Kingking, Pantukan, Compostela Valley, was tending her store when a gunman fired two shots at her at around 8:30pm. Both bullets only grazed Navacilla, but flew past the back of her head and her nape.

Human rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao links the attempt on Navacilla’s life as an “attempt to silence the person for her opposition against the pending entry of Nationwide Development Corporation (NADECOR) and St. Augustine Gold and Copper Limited, both largescale and foreign mining companies that will scale-up its operations this March covering 1,656 hectares in Pantukan municipality.”

Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR, said that the killers could have come from the 46th IB, who according to her “have been on a rampage in Pantukan lately, arresting innocent civilians and portraying them as members of the NPA, and assaulting human rights of progressive leaders in the area as well. They are targeting those small-scale miners, farmers and Lumads of Mansaka tribe who are opposing the entry and full operation of NADECOR and St. Augustine Mining Companies.”

Suazo claimed that the attack on Navacilla “could happen to other organizations and individuals strongly against environmental plunder and destruction.”

She added that the presence of the 46th IB in Pantukan is yet another manifestation of economic plunder, resulting to militarization of otherwise peaceful civilian communities.

“The 46th IB was originally a Palparan battalion operating in Northern Samar. It was assigned in Maguindanao before finally being deployed to Pantukan under the 10th IDPA last 2014.”

“If there’s any proof that the militarization of Mindanao is not to hunt the NPA but to crush progressive organizations resisting encroachment of foreign businesses, it’s the existence of the 46th IB and the recent assaults against anti-foreign large-scale mining activists,” Suazo concluded.

In 2015, Isabello Tindasan, leader of Compostela Farmer’s Association, survived two shooting incidents against him by military elements under the 66th IBPA in Compostela, Compostela Valley. Tindasan and his organization are vehement in opposing the entry of Cojuangco-owned largescale mining, the Agusan Petroleum Mining Company in the area.

Early this year, Renante Mantos, leader of Hugpong sa Mag-uuma sa Walog Compostela (HUMAWAC) or Assembly of Farmers in Compostela Valley, was filed with trumped-up charges of serious illegal detention of his own neighbors. Elements of the 71st IBPA are suspected to be behind the charges.

 

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Bloody week as three killed in Davao region

53RD IN AQUINO'S REGIME Christopher Matibay, a peasant leader who was part of last year's Manilakbayan ng Mindanao, was laid to rest by his family and friends as they shouted for justice for his death. (Photo by Kilab Multimedia)
53RD IN AQUINO’S REGIME Christopher Matibay, a peasant leader who was part of last year’s Manilakbayan ng Mindanao, was laid to rest by his family and friends as they shouted for justice for his death. (Photo by Kilab Multimedia)

DAVAO CITY — The human rights group Karapatan Southern Mindanao condemned the killing of a lumad farmer leader in Davao Oriental last week, bringing the count of extrajudicial killings in Davao Region to three in January in just a week’s time.

The latest victim is Christopher  Matibay, 43 years old and leader of the Typhoon Pablo survivors group Barug Katawhan in the municipality of Baganga, Davao Oriental, who was shot dead last January 18.

Matibay was one of the leaders from Davao Oriental who joined last year’s Manilakbayan ng Mindanao to raise support to Typhoon Pablo survivors neglected by government.

Matibay’s wife recounted the incident took place around 4 pm at Brgy. Lambajon when she was with her husband waiting at a waiting shed when they spotted a motorcycle riding person stopping few meters away from them.

Her husband warned her that the driver was an intelligence officer with alias “Mike” who was tailing him in the past, and   told her to go ahead of him.

After taking a few steps, she heard gunshots and saw the “Mike” driving away and her husband already sprawled on the ground, dead with three gunshot wounds in the body.

Karapatan-SMR secretary-general Hanimay Suazo condemned Matibay’s killings, which is the third extrajudicial killing for the month of January in a span of one week.

“With three deaths in a week, this shows that the Aquino regime is hell-bent to attack leaders of progressive groups with legitimate cries against his government’s ineptness,” Suazo said.

Another peasant leader, Ricky Peñaranda from Mati City, was shot dead last January 11. A 15-year old lumad student, Alibando Tingkas from Talaingod was killed by suspected paramilitary Alamara members last January 17.

“From Ricky Peñaranda to Alibando Tingkas and now Christopher Matibay, the killings proliferate. This is happening because of the Aquino regime’s nod to the silencing of people’s leaders, as highlighted in its “Whole of the Nation Initiative” in the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan,” Suazo added.

Matibay’s participation in the protest caravan played a part in his slay, Suazo said.

“We demand justice for Christopher Matibay, and also to those who went before him for asserting the rights and welfare of Tyhoon Pablo survivors, whom the government had neglected and unjustly demonized as NPA supporters when they decried the lack of support for their plight,” said Suazo.

Matibay is the third member of Barug Katawhan to be gunned down in Baganga, the first being Cristina Jose in 2013, followed by Felix Basig last year.

 

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PRESS RELEASE

KARAPATAN-SOUTHERN MINDANAO REGION

CONTACT PERSON: HANIMAY SUAZO

0932-198-6728

_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

Recent trumped-up charges in Southern Mindanao against farmers decried

 

COMVAL PRESS CON
VICTIMS SPEAK OUT Angelito Chavez (holding microphone) speaks before the media in a press conference organized by Karapatan-SMR today, January 19. On Chavez’s right is Renante Mantos, co-accused in the latest trumped-up charges against progressive leaders denouncing militarization in the countryside. Chavez and Mantos were accused of serious illegal detention of six individuals last January 6. Both men belied the charges, saying that their neighbors and co-workers could readily attest that they did not participate in the abduction. Along with them are other victims and family of the victims of trumped-up charges in the province of Compostela Valley. (Photo by Hanimay Suazo, caption by Kiko Martinez, Karapatan-SMR)

DAVAO CITY- Human rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao decried the first cases of trumped-up charges filed against a farmer activists who were vocal against military presence in their town of Maco, Compostela Valley.

Charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention against Reynante Mantos, Angelito Chavez, and Allan Montecalvo, all residents of Brgy. Malamodao, Municipality of Maco, Compostela Valley Province.

Six complainants were identified by media reports claiming that Mantos and his companions are all members of New People’s Army (NPA) in the area, a claim that Karapatan refutes.

“The victims of this new round of trumped-up charges are all known as human rights defenders. They have publicly participated in street protests, mass gatherings and media exposures against the military presence in their municipality and in the province,” said Karapatan SMR Secretary General Hanimay Suazo.

Reynante Mantos is the current chairperson of Hugpong sa mga Mag-uuma sa Walog Compostela (HUMAWAC), an affiliate of a peasant organization Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in southern Mindanao. While Angelito Chavez is an active member of HUMAWAC and Allan Montecalvo is the spokesperson of Indug Kautawan (People Rise Up), organization of environmental defenders in Compostela Valley.

“Mantos has been attending mass actions calling for the removal of AFP troops in civilian communities in the province of Compostela Valley. More importantly, he was a participant in last year’s Manilakbayan ng Mindanao in support of Lumad’s cause,” Suazo said.

Suazo questions the motive of the complainants, as she identified one of the complainant, Aina Grace Ombilayan, is in a relationship with a soldier of the 71st Infantry Battalion deployed in Maco.

She said the charges against Mantos, Chavez and Montecalvo “are not isolated cases.  The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) through the 10th Infantry Division, Philippine Army has been specializing in filing trumped-up charges and their legal offensives against community human rights defenders.”

Karapatan SMR noted they have documented 63 trumped-up cases against activists and human rights defenders in Davao Region.

“This is part of the special grand design of the counter-insurgency Oplan Bayanihan of the AFP-BS Aquino administration through their whole of the nation initiative (WNI) and social pressure tactics by using the government agencies through the police, prosecutor’s office, and the courts to repress human rights defenders and quell people’s resistance”, said Suazo.

 

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PRESS RELEASE

KARAPATAN-SOUTHERN MINDANAO REGION

CONTACT PERSON: HANIMAY SUAZO

0932-198-6728

_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

Peasant Leader and Lumad Student Latest EJK’s of 2016

TINGKAS EJK MOB

DAVAO CITY- A human rights group slammed the killings of a peasant leader in Mati City and a 15-year old lumad student from Talaingod, Davao del Norte, the first cases of extrajudicial killings in Davao region this year.

Ricky Penaranda, chairman of Fisherman Landless Association and member of Indug Kautawan, was gunned down in Dona Rosa, Brgy. Central, Mati City on January 11.

Penaranda had just came from settling a case of a farmer illegally arrested in a land dispute. He was riding a motorcycle when two men riding in tandem shot him at the back. A witness said the gunmen, with their faces covered with caps and handkerchiefs, shouted at him: “Isog jud ka ha! Makiglantugi jud ka!” (“You’re brave eh! You really want to fight!”).

Meanwhile, Alindang Tingkas, a student of the Salugpongan Community Learning Center in Sitio Laslasakan, Talaingod, Davao del Norte, was gunned down by members of the paramilitary Alamara last January 16.

Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Secretary-General Hanimay Suazo condemned these first cases of extra-judicial killings in Southern Mindanao.  “We condemn in the highest terms these two killings, as they once again reflect the poor status of human rights in the country,” Suazo said.

Suazo said that the primary motive on the killing of Penaranda was clearly due to his involvement in the helping peasants in their land struggle.

She also criticized the Aquino government for its lack of instituting reforms and protection of the welfare of peasants and other marginalized groups such as the indigenous peoples.

“Apart from the lack of will to protect poor peasants, the Aquino regime is also rife with impunity for extra-judicial killings, particularly against those who stand up for the rights of the oppressed,” she said.

She also condemned the killing of Tingkas by the Alamara, which she said is backed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines for pushing its Oplan Bayanihan campaign.

“The continuing support of the AFP to the Alamara grants it impunity and seemingly endless opportunities to terrorize the people. Truly, the AFP’s “Whole of the Nation Initiative” targets civilians and not combatants, as shown in the death of Tingkas. Tingkas’ aspirations for education ran in contrast to the AFP’s interests, who wish that lumad communities would remain uneducated so as to easily allow the entry of mining corporations in lumad ancestral lands.”

Karapatan also blamed Alamara for the killing of a Talaingod Lumad leader, Datu Manlero Landahay last year.

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PRESS RELEASE

KARAPATAN-SOUTHERN MINDANAO REGION

CONTACT PERSON: HANIMAY SUAZO

0932-198-6728

 

IN PHOTOS: 67th Human Rights Day In Southern Mindanao

More than a thousand people converged in Davao City on Human Rights Day, to once again call for the pull-out of military troops in the countryside and end to the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan of the Aquino administration.

Lumad evacuees from Davao del Norte, Bukidnon, and Compostela Valley were joined by peasants and urban activists as they marched the thoroughfares of Davao, shouting “Pakyason ang Oplan Bayanihan!” (“Defeat Oplan Bayanihan!”), “Ihunong ang militarisasyon sa kabukiran!” (“End the militarization in the countryside!”), and “Yutang Kabilin! Depensahan! Ipaglaban!” (“Ancestral Lands! Defend! Fight for!”).

(Photos and caption by Laz Olalo, Karapatan-SMR).

Protesters begin to line up at Magsaysay Park at 9 AM

 

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They march towards Freedom Park. The sight of over a thousand people in red draws the attention of people from the sides.

 

3
The group finally arrives at Freedom Park, the first protest site for the Human Rights Day.

 

4
Portraits of top human rights defenders are erected for all to identify.

 

5
Rciky Balilid, a teacher from the MISFI Academy in Kapalong, Davao del Norte, narrates how teachers in lumad alternative schools are red-tagged by the military as NPA educators.

 

7
Jinky Malibato, a student of the MISFI Academy in Kapalong, narrates the total lack of government support towards education in their area, and its attacks to their school.

 

8
Cultural performers sing “Oplan Bayanihan”, a song criticizing mainly the deceptive nature of the Aquino regime’s counterinsurgency program, and calls for peoples’ resistance.

 

Benito Bay-ao from Talaingod condemns DepEd for its decision against the opening of lumad schools this year, and calls for the scrapping of DepEd Memo 221.

 

8
Protesters marched again, this time towards Rizal Park, their second station for their protest.

 

9
Datu Juanito from Kitaotao, Bukidnon, recounts how he and 13 others were illegally arrested by elements of the 8th IB, who branded them as members of the NPA.

 

After a brief lunch, protesters boarded trucks and jeeps, then travelling to the Eastern Mindanao Command in Panacan.

 

Upon arrival, they line up, in preparation of their march towards the last protest station.

 

10
Lumad youth bring out their calls and indigenous bamboo instrument bangkakawan in front of Camp Felix Apolinario, headquarters of the Eastern Mindanao Command.

 

Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR: "Oplan Bayanihan has failed in SMR in the island of Mindanao, in the entire country, for the likes of us are still (protesting) here today,
Hanimay Suazo (middle, in red), secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR: “Oplan Bayanihan has failed in SMR in the island of Mindanao, in the entire country, for the likes of us are still (protesting) here today.

 

A military agent was handed over by marshals of the event to the police. The agent was caught sneaking in taking pictures of the lumad. When accosted, he struggled to escape, leading to a commotion and his eventual capture by the marshals.

 

Isabello Tindasan, chairperson of the Compostela Farmers Association, narrated how he and several others experienced threats to their lives after they showed resistance to the operations of the Agusan Petroleum and Minerals Corporation in their area. Tindasan has survived two strafing incidents by military forces in the last six months.
Isabello Tindasan, chairperson of the Compostela Farmers Association, narrated how he and several others experienced threats to their lives after they showed resistance to the operations of the Agusan Petroleum and Minerals Corporation in their area. Tindasan has survived two strafing incidents by military forces in the last six months.

 

14
Military men are jeered upon by the crowd of protesters as they passed by.

 

Rep. Karlos Zarate from Bayan Muna decried the proliferation of trumped-up charges against members of progressive groups, making a mockery of the justice system in the country.
Rep. Karlos Zarate from Bayan Muna decried the proliferation of trumped-up charges against members of progressive groups, making a mockery of the justice system in the country.

 

Jimboy Mandaguit, head of KASILO, a lumad organization in San Fernando Bukidnon, condemned the absence of justice in the killing of Datu Jimmy Liguyon, whom the former succeeded after the latter was killed for his anti-mining stance. His killer was Alde “”Butsoy’ Salusad, a paramilitary leader known for his connections with the AFP.

 

Portraits of the top human rights violators under the Aquino regime are placed in front of the Eastern Mindanao Command.

 

16
In a symbolic form of resistance, Lumad spear with their banners the four, ripping the portraits to pieces.

 

A student steps on a scrap from the portrait to break it further.

 

A protester holds up high another scrap before beating it moments after.

 

Protesters continue to attack the symbols of impunity.
Protesters continue to attack the symbols of impunity.

 

A last dip of their symbolic spear, before they made an organized departure from the Eastern Mindanao Command.
A last dip of their symbolic spear, before they made an organized departure from the Eastern Mindanao Command.

 

 

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