Oplan Bayanihan victimizing farmers, civilians; Aquino accountable for destructive military atrocities in Mindanao

June 23, 2015

Protest at Mendiola condemning the Paquibato Massacre and the continuous human rights violations happening in Mindanao perpetrated by the military.

Protest at Mendiola condemning the Paquibato Massacre and the continuous human rights violations happening in Mindanao perpetrated by the military. Image form BAYAN

In a protest at Mendiola, farmers and human rights defenders are holding accountable the Aquino administration and its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, for the relentless military atrocities happening in Mindanao, particularly in the Southern Mindanao Region, that results to wanton violation of human rights and abuses against the civilian population.

“While portraying himself as a stalwart of peace in Mindanao through the Bangsamoro Basic Law, President Aquino, who is also the Commander-in-Chief, is tolerating the combat-heavy, trigger-happy AFP troops in Davao City that have inflicted violence, destruction and grave abuse on the people’s lives and livelihood,” said KMP secretary-general Antonio Flores.

A national fact-finding mission initiated by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), KARAPATAN-Southern Mindanao Region, and Paquibato District Peasants Alliance (PADIPA) on the heinous Paquibato Massacre revealed that the 69th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army attacked Purok 7 Barangay Paradise Embac, a civilian community and indiscriminately strafed the house of the peasant leader Aida Siesa last June 13.

The incident resulted to the deaths of tribal leader Datu Ruben Enlog, 54 years old, Chairman of the Nagkahiusang Lumad sa Paquibato (Nagkalupa), local village leader Randy Carnasa, 49 and Oligario Quimbo, 41, a member of PADIPA. Two persons survived the massacre.

Siesa’s 12-year old daughter was wounded in the incident. Siesa, together with her husband, Henry, remain missing and unaccounted for as of this writing. The neighbors said there was no exchange of fire and that the strafing incident lasted for almost an hour. The fact-finding team discovered hundreds of empty bullet shells of M-16 outside Siesa’s house.

“Contrary to the military’s false and malicious claims that the victims were NPA rebels and the incident in Purok 7, Barangay Paradise Embac was an encounter, neighbors of Aida Siesa and civilians in the community attested that the victims were all civilians – farmers who live and work with them in their community,” said Pedro Arnado, chairperson of KMP-Southern Mindanao.

“What the military did was cold-blood massacre of civilians,” said Flores, adding that farmers and indigenous peoples are easy targets of the regime’s intense militarization and counter-insurgency campaign that claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians and continue to sow terror and violence among peasant communities in the countryside,”

The 69th IB was also responsible for the aerial bombings and series of human rights violations in Sitio Quimotod, Barangay Fatima, Paquibato District, Davao City. Two weeks ago, military-grade bombs were dropped on farmsteads based on the shrapnels and ammunition cartridges retrieved from the area, damaged plants like bananas, coconuts, and durians, and bullet holes on the roofs and walls of houses, were all confirmed and documented by KARAPATAN-SMR.

“We demand the immediate pull-out of army battallions encamped in civilian communities in Davao City and Compostela Valley to stop the human rights abuses against peasant farmers and peasant leaders,” said Flores adding that “the AFP and the government should be held responsible for the unending list of farmers killed under the Aquino administration.”

66th IB strafing in Compostela

In separate incident, last June 21, the 66th Infantry Battallion of the Philippine Army, strafed the house of Bello Tindasan, chairperson of Compostela Farmers Association at Purok 21, Sitio Mambosao, Barangay Ngan, Compostela, Compostela Valley.

According to Tindasan, the strafing incident started at 3:20 in the afternoon and lasted for 15 minutes. He said that his house was approximately 80 meters away from the military camp and the soldiers targeted his house. Tindasan’s 14-year old son was injured in the incident. The peasant leader believes that military-led harassment against his family is related to the farmers’ local campaign demanding the pull-out the machineries of Agusan Petroleum operating in their farmlands. ###