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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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

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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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

_____________________________________________________________________________________