“Karapatan strongly criticizes the recent rhetoric of President Rodrigo Duterte on the declaration of martial law in Mindanao and his orders to members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to “flatten the hills” and drop bombs on rebels of the New People’s Army (NPA),” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, in a rally led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan at the Department of National Defense in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
Palabay said “these statements, along with the continuing implementation of counter-insurgency programs Oplan Bayanihan and Oplan Kapayapaan and the AFP’s declaration of all-out war, are being used by the military and police as license to kill and arrest civilians, including leaders and members of people’s organizations.”
Under Duterte, Karapatan documented thirty-nine (39) victims of political killings, twenty were killed from January to March 2, 2017. This includes the recent killings of farmers and anti-mining activists Ramon and Leonila Pesadilla in Compostela Valley by suspected members of the 66th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army on March 2; of farmers Ian and Rolendo Borres in Maayon, Capiz on February 24 by the 61st IBPA led by 1Lt. Joe Mark Bitbit and that of coconut farmer and peasant leader Gilbert Bancat in San Andres, Quezon by elements of the Southern Luzon Command (SOLCOM).
“Bombing of communities has also resulted to the forcible evacuation, destruction of property, illegal arrests and other forms of violations against the people,” Palabay said citing the cases of an estimate of 11,500 residents in Brgy. Pichon, Caraga, Davao Oriental where 12-18 bombs were dropped by the 67th IBPA on July 7 and 8, 2016; the arrest of four farmers and displacement of at least 23 families in Brgy. Parasanon, Maragusan, Compostela Valley in August 2016; and the recent arrest of eight (8) members of the Kaolo tribe and the forcible evacuation of 120 households in Brgy. Datal Anggas, Alabel, Sarangani on February 11, 2017.
“Your armed forces have been bombing communities even at the onset of your administration. You cannot use the alleged incident in Bansalan, Davao del Sur, to justify these violations any further and act as if these State agents are all so innocent,” Palabay said to Duterte.
Forty-three individuals were also illegally arrested and detained from July 2016 to February 2017. Last March 7, four peasant organizers of the Kalipunan ng Samahang Magsasaka sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) were arrested and wounded in Brgy. Camflora, San Andres, Quezon province, during and after the reported operations of SOLCOM elements in the community.
Among those arrested were Christopher Redota, 26, Jennifer Yuzon, 22, Teteng Yuzon and Dana Marie Marcellana. Marcellana is the daughter of Karapatan Southern Tagalog Secretary General Eden Marcellana, who was killed together with peasant leader Eddie Gumanoy by men of Gen. Jovito Palparan on April 21, 2003 in Mindoro Occidental.
Since March 7, the four have been in the custody of the Southern Luzon Command. Their relatives, human rights and church workers have been denied access to detained peasant organizers. “They are illegally arrested and arbitrarily detained. We fear they are being tortured by their military captors. We demand that the SOLCOM release these peasant organizers,” Palabay said.
“These fascist attacks against the people and struggling communities through counter-insurgency programs, together with the relentless extrajudicial killing of poor people through the war on drugs and measures to revive the death penalty under a rotten justice system, are compelling reasons to continue the peace talks between the GRP and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and for the people to fight back against repressive and anti-people policies under the Duterte administration,” Palabay concluded. ###