AFP bombings, operations force civilian residents in Davao City, Maguindanao to flee

At least eighty-six (86) families and 5,000 residents in Brgy. Dominga, Calinan district, Davao City and Brgy. Kitango and Datu Saudi Ampatuan in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao province respectively were forced to evacuate to due aerial bombings and military operations in the said communities last week. 

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay attributed the said violations against civilians to “the continuing nuisance efforts of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense to derail the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines through unabated and blatant violations on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan.”

Since May 6, 2017, combat operations by the 3rd Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army in Brgy. Dominga, Calinan district, Davao City have resulted to initially reported cases of extrajudicial killing, torture of a farmer, and threats and harassment of residents. 

On May 9, 33-year old farmer Rodolfo Dagahuya was reported killed after the 3rd IBPA Task Force Haribon strafed his house and other nearby homes. On May 10, soldiers illegally searched the houses of residents and a certain Lascuna from Sitio Kibaton was interrogated and mauled by the military. On May 11, barangay kagawad Dennis Epal, together with other residents of Sitio Cabagtukan evacuated to Brgy. Dacudao. While they were on their way to the next village, Epal was interrogated by the military and threatened to be tortured. They were prevented from going out of their barangay, their movements being monitored by the military. 

On May 10, at around 7 a.m., the military dropped at least six (6) bombs in the community, according to the residents. The Philippine Air Force admitted providing “close air support” through a MD520-MG helicopter equipped with rockets and machine guns, to their ground troops. 

On May 8, 2017, the 6th Infantry Division-Philippine Army conducted air strikes in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao province, displacing 5,000 residents, according to initial reports by Karapatan Southern Mindanao. The air strikes were reportedly targetting Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in barangays Kitango and Datu Saudi Ampatuan.
In a related development, on May 15, 2017, Karapatan sent a letter of allegation and complaints to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of internally displaced persons Ms. Cecilia Jimenez regarding the forcible evacuation of communities under the Duterte administration.

Submitted to Jimenez were case information on the forcible evacuation of community residents in Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte; Maddela, Quirino; Maragusan, Compostela Valley; San Fernando, Bukidnon; Talacogon, Agusan Del Sur; and 
Alabel, Sarangani.

“These community violations are all in the context of the counter-insurgency programs implemented from one regime to another that supposedly seek to end the armed rebellion of revolutionary movements in the Philippines. From Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya, Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan and to the current Oplan Kapayapaan of Duterte, these counter-insurgency programs have victimized thousands of Filipinos, including struggling communities, tagged as ‘enemies of the State.’ Lest the root causes of the armed conflict remain unsolved, any militarist solution of the State that targets revolutionary groups, political activists and civilians often results to human rights violations,” Palabay said in her letter. #


** Copy of letter to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of internally displaced persons Ms. Cecilia Jimenez and case information are available upon request.