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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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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