The dirty war and lies of the Armed Forces and PH gov’t
THE VICTIMS, their kin and the witnesses have spoken: The Armed Forces of the Philippines and its paramilitary forces are responsible for the grave crimes and atrocities that have been committed and continue to be committed against them, their tribes and their communities. There is a distinct pattern in the 262 documented victims of extrajudicial killing and the 292 victims of frustrated killing of a growing number of lumad in Mindanao: the targets have been known as defenders of the indigenous peoples’ rights to land, ancestral domain, social services, among other rights.
This is the dirty war being waged by the Aquino administration and the AFP against the people through Oplan Bayanihan.
Between August and the first two weeks of September this year, at least nine lumad and an advocate of indigenous peoples’ rights have been killed, this according to the Karapatan Documentation Desk. The latest incident was the killing of lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo and Alcadev (Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development) school executive director Emerito Samarca by the Magahat/Bagani/Marcos Bocales paramilitary group under the command of the 36th Infantry Battalion (IB), 75th IB and the 1st Special Forces Battalion, all of the Philippine Army. Prior to these killings, five Manobo farmers were massacred in Pangantucan, Bukidnon, by soldiers from the 1st Special Forces Battalion.
As in the previous Arroyo regime, President Aquino and the AFP’s Oplan Bayanihan is being implemented with the active involvement of elements from the Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit, Special Civilian Active Auxiliary groups, investment defense forces and many other paramilitary groups with various names, although they are behind essentially the same atrocities being perpetrated against civilian communities: massive human rights violations and acts of terror.
The killing of lumad in Mindanao and of those who express their dissent against an unjust social system is not just a mere coincidence, not even a hobby of the AFP. We believe that it is part of a deliberate, systematic campaign to suppress legitimate people’s actions. No lie of the AFP, nor President Aquino’s feigned innocence about the involvement of government soldiers in the killings can hide the truth. UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Dr. Chaloka Beyani himself has cited these human rights violations as the reason for the lumad evacuations. But the liars that they are, military and government officials have resorted to distorting Beyani’s statement.
As of Sept. 7, 2015, at least 2,658 individuals from communities where the AFP continues to conduct military operations, all of them lumad, have been forced to evacuate to the Surigao del Sur Provincial Sports Complex in Tandag City. More than 700 lumad from Davao del Norte and Bukidnon are still in an evacuation center in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines compound in Davao City.
—CRISTINA PALABAY, secretary general, Karapatan, email@example.com
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