On the day of the first State of the Nation’s Address of the newly elected president Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte, an encounter between the New People’s Army (NPA) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) took place in Brgy. De Lapaz, Lopez Quezon, with one casualty from the NPA known as “Ka Reymart” and allegedly two casualties from the AFP, July 25.
A quick response team from KARAPATAN-Quezon immediately conducted an initial visit in the area to know whether the rights of the residents from the said barangay were violated. It turned out from the initial statements that there might have been violations due to the reports of irregularities on the side of the AFP.
August 2-3, a fact-finding mission led by KARAPATAN-Quezon was held; around 27 families were interviewed leading to a conclusion that most of them were traumatized by what happened and also with the operations of the AFP right after the encounter. Two residents namely Rogelio and Antonio Ragay, 67 and 79 years old were taken by the AFP and were not released even thought the incident has already ended, They were also subjected to questioning. On the same day “SOCO” searched their house without any warrant.
According to the statements of the residents, on August 1, the militaries came back, distributed school supplies and warned them to stay away from progressive organizations and especially from the NPA. Consecutively, another group of soldiers from the AFP came back to the house of Rogelio and Antonio that has disturbed them and militaries even cooked rice.
On the other hand, the casualty from the NPA, Ka Reymart, allegedly was violated of his right to Hors De Combat for according to the medical report two of the three gunshots he had have no exit points.
Almost two hundred (200) families from Brgy. De Lapaz were affected by the said incident and the continuing operation of the former administration’s counter insurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan. With this, KARAPATAN-Quezon extremely condemn these operations. It has hindered the people from the said brgy. to continue living their normal lives. More than that, it has also caused so much trauma especially to the 2 senior citizens, – the Ragay brothers – which seem to have been the main target of the AFP after the encounter.
The new Duterte administration have been issuing ceasefire and promoting peace, but the shadow of the Aquino administration’s Oplan Bayanihan still lingers in the country, especially to the rural areas. KARAPATAN has been in the forefront advocating peace based on justice and it hopes that the new administration will be serious enough in pushing their peace agenda with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. Moreover it must prosecute agents of human rights violations in the country. #
KARAPATAN REPORTORIAL TEAM
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