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.
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
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.