STOP MILITARIZATION, SAVE THE PEOPLE OF QUEZON!—Karapatan Southern Tagalog press statement

14 May 2012


The human rights group KARAPATAN-Southern Tagalog, along with the victims’ families and other sectoral organizations in the region, condemn in the strongest possible terms the unprecedented deployment of military in the province of Quezon, which has resulted to escalating human rights violations in the area. To date, at least 8 battalions of the Philippine Army have been operating in the Southern part of Quezon alone.

Units deployed in the area include Philippine Army’s 85th, 76th, 74th, 59th Infantry Battalions, 1st Special Forces of the Philippine Army, 201st Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, CAFGU and 416th Provincial Police Mobile Group. While past administrations have also employed militarization in their counterinsurgency programs, the recent deployment in South Quezon is but alarming considering the concentrated number of military relative to the area it operates.

Quezon, specifically South Quezon and Bondoc Peninsula, can be considered as center of agricultural production where products such as coconut, corn, and grains abound. Minerals such as gold and petroleum also flourish in these areas. Development programs of both the government and private companies which include Bio-diesel in Gumaca, Mirant Powerplant Extension in Atimonan, and dam construction in Macalelon are also concentrated in South Quezon and Bondoc Peninsula. Touted as ‘Hacienda belt’, Bondoc Peninsula, meanwhile, has thousands of farm lands owned by the families Murray, Soleta, Estrada-Quizon, Tan, Reyes and Matias.

With these potential coupled with the agricultural blissfulness of the province, and the growing resistance of the locals particularly of the farmers, it is no wonder why the government has deployed that much number of military and police to South Quezon and Bondoc Peninsula.

A case of abduction in Macalelon town in March 27, 2011 was already reported to Karapatan. Unidentified armed men allegedly took farmer Felix Balaston to the 85th Infantry Battalion’s camp. He remains missing to date.

Just recently, last March 22, 2012, some drunk members of the 74th Infantry Battalion were reported to have manhandled some youth in San Andres town namely Rey Rodrigo (16 y/o), Reynaldo Delos Santos(18y/o) and Elmer Desuyo(21 y/o).

Other cases of threat, harassment, intimidation, illegal arrest and detention perpetrated against local farmers are also being verified by KARAPATAN-ST.

Army forces are currently stationed in houses and barangay (village) centers. Detachments are mounted in about 50 barangays in the rural areas of South Quezon. Several local farmers’ groups in South Quezon consistent in their struggle for genuine land reform against big landlords and businesses are now targeted by the military in their operations.

We call on the Aquino administration to immediately pull out the military and police troops deployed in South Quezon. While the government proudly banners its counter insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan in the name of ‘peace and development’ and continues to echo its mantra for the ‘respect for human rights’, farmers, workers, and other members of the basic sectors fighting for their democratic rights experience the most inhumane treatment from state forces.

We decry the brutality and manhandling of the military and police forces to the people of Quezon. It is unacceptable how those who have sworn to protect the interests of and defend the people are now the ones causing terror and sowing fear to them. The militarization in Quezon is not an isolated case. Elsewhere in the country, suppression of democratic and civil rights is blatant and prevalent. During the time of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, there were about 180 reported cases of extra judicial killings (EJKs), 32 enforced disappearances, and other atrocities in the Southern Tagalog region alone. The human rights situation has even exacerbated when President Aquino assumed position, with 16 cases of EJKs and 3 disappeared in the region. Not to mention the continuing crackdown and filing of trumped up charges against political activists.

If President Aquino is serious in bringing justice and long-lasting peace in the country, then we challenge him to investigate the human rights cases and put an end to these human rights abuses by denouncing its Oplan Bayanihan. He can never silence the growing unrest of the people. As his regime continuously deny the people of their basic rights and liberty, the oppressed people are left with no other choice but to stand up and fight.

We rally all peace loving citizens to unite in condemning this injustice and abuse done to our fellow men. We also call on everyone to support the anti-militarization and anti-fascist campaign in the region.

This is just the start. We vow to continue the struggle until all forms of human rights violations is stopped and justice is served to all victims.

 

EXPOSE AND OPPOSE OPLAN BAYANIHAN!

JUSTICE TO ALL VICTIMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS!

MILITARY TROOPS IN THE COUNTRYSIDE, OUT NOW!

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AFP, Stop Spreading Your Lies

15 May 2012


The Armed Forces of the Philippines Human Rights Office (AFPHRO), in a news article on the Philippine Daily Inquirer that came out last May 14, is boasting that the AFP has a clean human rights slate from January to April this year and all other human rights violations cases filed at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) from July 2010 are mere accusations.

The AFP should stop spreading its lies.

An estimated eight battalions of the Army, police and CAFGU are currently stationed in 22 towns in the southern part of Quezon. Such a concentration of forces in rural communities translates to an escalation of human rights violations.

In a press conference we have organized last Monday, farmers from Quezon shared stories of military abuse.

Among them was Christopher Prieto, a farmer from Mulanay, Quezon. Last May 9, at around 1:00 A.M., several armed men in combat boots came to his house accusing him of hiding a gun. When his wife asked the unwanted visitors who they were, they only answered “Why do you need to know who we are?”

Prieto said some of his neighbors were brought to a military camp last January, interrogated and accused of being New People’s Army (NPA) rebels. One was even beaten up.

In Catanuan, Quezon, military men disrupted 17-year-old Manilyn Caribot’s funeral, who died in a crossfire between the 85th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) and the NPA last April 29.

Her aunt, Genelyn Dichoso, was offered Php 150,000 by two army men (one introduced himself as a lieutenant from the 76th IBPA) for her to refrain from filing a case against the military. She declined.

On Caribot’s funeral last May 5, two 6×6 army trucks filled with soldiers in full battle gear stood waiting at the cemetery entrance.  The soldiers surrounded the grave where Manilyn was set to be buried. While all this was happening, soldiers reportedly ransacked Dichoso’s house, as well as five others,.and allegedly pointed their guns at children who were left at home.

Felix Balaston, a farmer from Macalelon, Quezon, was seen by witnesses being brought to the 85th IBPA camp on March 27, 2011. His wife, Mirasol, is still searching for him up to now.

Many other cases of threat, intimidation, harassment, manhandling have also been reported to Karapatan by local farmers.

Certainly, the AFP will dismiss these cases again as mere accusations.

Let us not forget that during the Arroyo administration, more than a thousand fell victim to extrajudicial killings and hundreds to enforced disappearance, yet no one was ever convicted. That does not mean that the victims were simply spreading accusations.

Human rights violations continue under the current Aquino administration’s Internal Peace and Security Plan “Bayanihan” or “Oplan Bayanihan.” Like its predecessor Oplan Bantay Laya, Oplan Bayanihan is a counterinsurgency program devised to quell any form of dissent, armed or unarmed, by any means necessary. It blurs the distinction between what is legal and illegal. Ultimately, innocent civilians become prime victims.

There is a great need to defend human rights, especially when the violators will do anything in their power to mislead the public. There is a great need for all who know in their hearts the importance of human rights to unite and take a stand against injustice.

Stop human rights violations now.

Glendhyl Malabanan

Secretary General

Karapatan-Southern Tagalog

karapatan.st@gmail.com


Tatlong Menor de Edad sa Quezon, Pinagbintangang mga Miyembro ng NPA at Iligal na Inaresto ng mga Militar

Tatlong Menor de Edad sa Quezon, Pinagbintangang mga Miyembro ng NPA at Iligal na Inaresto ng mga Militar

 

PRESS RELEASE

25 Marso 2012

 

Reference:

Glendhyl Malabanan

Secretary General, KARAPATAN-Southern Tagalog

Contact no.: 09185682090

Email: karapatan.st@gmail.com

QUEZON — Marso 22, humigit-kumulang 6:30 ng hapon sa Sitio Tagbakan, Brgy. Pansoy, San Andres, Quezon, Tatlong kabataang magsasaka ang  iligal na inaresto ng mga miyembro ng 74th Infantry Battalion Philippine Air force na nakabase sa Sitio Niño, Quezon sa pangunguna ni Lt. Vitalico Sacoso.

Ang mga kabataang dinakip ay sina Elmer Desoyo na 17 taong gulang, Rey Rodrigo na 17 taong gulang at isa pang menor de edad na nagngangalang Reynaldo Delos Santos. Sila Desoyo at Rodrigo ay nakatira sa Sitio Irigation, Brgy. Nasalaan, San Francisco, Quezon habang si Delos Santos ay  taga-Brgy. Camplora, San Andres, Quezon.

Matapos ang nasabing pag-aresto ay pinuntahan ng mga militar sa pangunguna ni Corporal Richard Casciano ang pamilya at sinabi na ang nahuling 3 ay nasa kanilang Company Headquarters dahil sila ay nahuli sa diumano’y engkwentro sa pagitan nila at ng New People’s army (NPA) sa Sitio Tagbakan, Brgy. Pansoy San Andres, Quezon.

Dalawang beses nang  pinuntahan ng pamilya at ng grupong KARAPATAN-ST ang nasabing Company Headquartes ngunit hindi ipinakita sa kanila ang mga inarestong kabataan. Sa ngayon ay nabalitaang nasa Quezon Provincial Jail na ang mga menor de edad at sinampahan ng kasong illegal possession of fire arm.

Ayon kay Glendhyl Malabanan, Secretary General ng KARAPATAN-ST, “Binabansagan nilang miyembro ng NPA ang mga kabataang ito upang pagtakpan nila ang mga paglabag sa karapatang pantao na ginagawa nila sa mga kabataan tulad ng ilegal na pang-aaresto. Patunay na maging ang mga walang muwang na mga kabataan ay nagiging biktima ng marahas na pananatili ng mga militar sa mga komunidad sa ilalim ng Oplan Bayanihan ng pamahalaan ni Noynoy Aquino.”

Ayon sa tala ng Children’s Rehabilitation Center, sa loob pa lamang ng tatlong buwan sa taong ito ay mayroon ng limang kaso ng extrajudicial killings, 15 frustrated killings, 2 kaso ng panggagahasa at sekswal na pansasamantala; 10 atake sa mga eskwelahan at 8 kaso ng pagbibintang sa mga kabataan na mga rebelde o miyembro ng NPA.

“Nakakaalarma at nakakatakot ang ganitong sunod-sunod na pangyayari ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao sa mga kabataan. Nito lamang Pebrero 16, apat na kabataan sa Majayjay, Laguna ang walang awang pinagbabaril ng mga miyembrong sundalo ng 202 Brigade ng Philippine Army. Dalawa sa kanila ang namatay at dalawa ang nasugatan na hanggang ngayon ay kritikal ang kalagayan. Aminado ang mga militar na napagkamalan nilang NPA ang mga kabataang mangangaso at pinilit pa nilang magpabayad ang mga magulang nito para hindi sa kanila magsampa ng kaso. Kitang-kita ang pagiging iresponsable at bastos ng mga militar na ito na nagpapanggap na mga human rights protector samantalang sila ang tunay na human rights violator!”, dagdag ni Malabanan.

Sa pahayag ng KARAPATAN-ST, mariin nilang kinokondena ang isa na namang kasong ito ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao na naganap sa Quezon. Nananawagan ang mga pamilya ng mga kabataang dinakip na sa madaling panahon ay ipakita na sa kanila ang kanilang mga kaanak at bigyan sila ng hustisya. Ayon sa kanila, kinakailangang matigil ang karahasang idinudulot sa mga kabataan ng Oplan Bayanihan ni Noynoy Aquino. Sa kabila ng kawalang prayoridad ng gobyerno sa mga pangunahing pangangailangan tulad ng edukasyon ay dinadagdagan pa ng karahasan ang pasanin ng mga kabataan. ###