Military steps up attacks vs communities in Mindanao - Karapatan

“While the police continue their killing spree through the drug war and initiate mass arrests of tambays in urban communities, soldiers stepped up their attacks against peasant and indigenous people populations in Mindanao where martial law is imposed. The Duterte regime is unleashing its all-out assault on the Filipino people’s democratic rights,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, upon receiving numerous reports of recent human rights violations perpetrated by the Armed Forces of Philippines in Mindanao.

Three peasant leaders were killed and at least seven individuals, including volunteer teachers of a Lumad school and a peasant activist, were illegally arrested. Residents from several communities have forcibly evacuated due to military operations and encampment in their villages. Fake surrenders were staged by the military, while they continue to terrorize residents whom they tag as NPA supporters.

On June 6, 2018, Higaonon peasant Jose Unahan was shot dead at around 8 p.m. in Sitio Tagbakon, Brgy. Culit, Nasipit, Agusan del Norte. Unahan was a member of the Unyon sa Mag-uuma sa Agusan del Norte (UMAN), the provincial formation of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP). He was involved in his tribe’s defense of their ancestral land against large-scale mining and other extractive industries.

On the same day, peasant leader Lando Perdicos, a member of Hugpong sa mga Mag-uuma sa Mabini (HUMABIN)-KMP was killed at his family’s residence in Brgy, Cabyuo-an, Mabini, Compostela Valley. On June 10, Mandaya peasant Nestor Dagatan Sacote, a member of Alyansa sa mga Mag-uuma sa Sidlakang Davao (ALMASID)-KMP, was shot dead while he was heading home to Purok San Vicente, Brgy. Lambajon, Baganga, Davao Oriental. Both Perdicos and Sacote joined protests against the intensifying militarization in peasant and Lumad communities in the Davao region.

Yesterday, June 20, six teachers from Lumad school Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao Sur (TRIFPPS) were illegally arrested and interrogated by soldiers from the 36th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA) in Brgy. Hayon, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur. The teachers sought sanctuary at a church in San Miguel. They were conducting a meeting with members of the Parent-Teacher-Community Association when the soldiers arrived, stopped the meeting, and brought the teachers to the barangay hall of Libas Sud. The volunteer teachers and community members have been receiving threats since last school year that if TRIFPSS continue to operate, their leaders and teachers will be killed.

On June 7, in Brgy. Banglay, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental, soldiers of the 58th IBPA fired at five peasants having their breakfast. The peasants are members of Hiniusang Mag-uuma sa Lagonglong (HIMALAG). All survived the shooting. At least 158 residents of Sitio Kamansi and Sitio Tapul, Brgy. Banglay have evacuated to the Provincial Capitol of Cagayan de Oro because of the 58th IBPA's intensified military operations in their community. On June 17, the same military unit illegally arrested Ricky Omandam, a member of Onyon sa Yanong Obrerong Nagkahiusa (OGYON), a local organization of farm workers in Brgy. New Eden, Pangantucan, Bukidnon. He was brought to a military detachment in Brgy. Madaya, where he is still currently detained for unknown charges.  

On June 10, the 56th IBPA, 72nd IBPA, and the 88th IBPA staged the fake surrender of ailing Manobo leader Datu Guibang Apoga in Sitio Nasilaban, Brgy. Palma Gil, Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

In Sitio Zapanta Valley, Brgy. Bangayan, Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte, residents have been subjected to interrogation and numerous threats and harassment since June 6, when almost 100 soldiers of the 29th IBPA started encamping in their village, even in the houses of residents. On June 12, around 122 Mamanwa peasant families (or 542 individuals, including the elderly, pregnant women and those with infants and children) were forced to evacuate to a nearby barangay, after they were restricted from going to their farms and from bringing food to their community. On June 14, several church workers, peasants and human rights advocates were prevented by soldiers from bringing food and other forms of relief aid to the evacuees, while the Mamanwa evacuees were in the evacuation center at the hall in Brgy. Bangayan. On June 17, the soldiers ordered the evacuees to board a dump truck and brought them to Sitio Little Baguio, Brgy. San Roque to supposedly “pledge their allegiance” to the 29th IBPA.

Last June 15, the same military unit forced at least 70 families of Mamanwa farmers from Purok 3 and 4, Brgy. Mahaba, Cabadbaran City to participate in a staged surrender. They were coerced to declare that they were active supporters of the NPA and to pledge allegiance to the 29th IBPA, even if they kept on saying that they were civilians and not combatants.

On June 15, 40 soldiers from the Marine Battalion Landing Team 2 (MBLT 2) led by 1st Lieutenant Ilagan started to encamp in Brgy. Datu Ito, Andog, Sultan Kudarat, near a community school of the Center for Lumad Advocacy, Networking and Services (CLANS). The soldiers were reportedly looking for CLANS teachers, citing direct instructions from Mayor Ronan Eugene Garcia to close the school. They also offered PhP100 to Lumad students for information on the whereabouts of the teachers, who were in a week-long lobbying campaign at the Department of Education Region 12 in South Cotabato for the release of the long-delayed permit-to-operate certificates for the said school.

“The pattern is very clear. When soldiers and police intrude in communities, there is a general state of insecurity and unpeace. Through counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan and the drug war, they sought to legitimize their presence. But as long as the people bear the dire consequences of such campaigns as evidenced in the various human rights violations reported, Duterte and his fascist dogs in the military and police will always earn the ire of the struggling people of Mindanao,” Palabay concluded. 

For reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 09173162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 09189790580