Farmers in Comval strafed, arrested in last 30 days of Oplan Bayanihan

STRAFED AND GRAZED Aladen Rosquitos shows the scratches on the top of his head, after crawling far to evade the hour-long strafing of the military to their house. He says that elements of the 60th IB strafed his home. In the last days of Oplan Bayanihan, state violence rages on.
STRAFED AND GRAZED Aladen Rosquitos shows the scratches on the top of his head, after crawling far to evade the hour-long strafing of the military to their house. He says that elements of the 60th IB strafed his home. In the last days of Oplan Bayanihan, state violence rages on. (Photo by Lam Banuag, Karapatan – SMR)

DAVAO CITY- With less than a month before the Aquino regime steps down from power, farmers in Compostela Valley reported human rights violations committed against them.

Karapatan – Southern Mindanao reports two farmers and their families survived a strafing incident committed by military elements in Brgy. Kapatagan, Laak, Compostela Valley, last June 2.

In another incident, a peasant was illegally arrested in Mawab and, was slapped with trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms last June 1.

Surviving the strafing were Aladen Etol Rosquitos and Randy Rosquitos, who managed to escape the shooting spree by alleged elements of the 60th IB, who fired at their houses at around 4:30 am.

According to Randy, he saw around 25 armed men in camouflage uniforms about 30 meters away from their home, whom he heard whispering before they started strafing their houses.

Randy and Aladen claim that it was their cousin, Marlon Rosquitos Samson, who was behind the attack to their life.

According to the two, Marlon is a thief with cases reported in Sawata Police Station, San Isidro, Laak, and also served as a guide for the 60th IB in counter-insurgency operations. Farmers said they heard soldiers tell Marlon that he would be accepted as a regular soldier if he could help capture a New People’s Army leader.

Two other farmers, Nikomedes Tapilot and Romar Zamora, were also illegally held and interrogated by the 60th IB troops that day. Soldiers took their pictures and confiscated their chickens.

Soldiers took Randy’s backpack, cellphone and hammocks claiming these belonged to the NPA whom they engaged in a firefight.

Randy and Aladen said they felt fear after hearing threats that eight farmers would be killed after the murder of Paul Saludaga, another member of the Farmers’ Association in Compostela.

Meanwhile, Leonardo Wamilda, 33, leader of Mawab Farmers’ Association, was taken away by elements of the CIDT-SOU, and detained at the police station in Mawab, before he was brought to the Nabunturan Municipal Police Station and charged with violation of RA 10591.

Wamilda was a barangay tanod in their area, and a member of the Mawab Farmers’ Association.

Karapatan said that the arrest of Wamilda shows the continuing attacks against members of progressive organizations in the countryside.

“From start to finish, the Aquino regime is untiring in sowing terror and violating human rights of the people. There is no let-up on the AFP’s and police’s fascist operations that make mockery of the law and unjustly put civilians behind bars,” Karapatan said in a statement.

“It is further disgusting that the AFP is using criminals as its accomplices, and provide them with impunity in return for the services they render in the course of military operations that make no distinction between combatants and civilians,” it added.

“Clearly, Aquino and the AFP are eager to rack up their achievements before the current administration’s term ends. That means civilians are targeted for attacks, then branded as NPA’s, just so the military can list something in their statistics”.

Karapatan challenged the incoming Duterte presidency to end illegal arrests, drop trumped up charges against members of progressive organizations, and end militarization in the countryside.

 

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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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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