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.
CONTACT PERSON: HANIMAY SUAZO