By BicolToday.com News Team
LEGAZPI CITY, Albay – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), after President Duterte lifted the ceasefire on July 30, has let loose its combat forces over Compostela Valley, occupying villages and engaged in hamletting, launching combat and aerial operations against known rebel strongholds, causing displacement of hundreds of families who fled the areas under military operations.
Incidents of human rights violations in Compostela Valley have been reported over the week, a Bicol-based human rights group informed BicolToday.com about the human rights situation in Mindanao.
One disturbing report said AFP soldiers in Monkayo on Monday shot dead a woman civilian who was being rushed to a hospital by neighbors after suffering from a bad fall.
Human rights groups in Mindanao, monitoring the situation in conflict areas in Compostela Valley, reported that AFP soldiers shot dead a woman farmer in Monkayao on Monday, as human rights violations escalate in military operations by the Philippine Army’s 10th Infantry Division in various communities in Compostela Valley.
Reports from Karapatan-Southern Mindanao said that last August 7, 19-year old Rose Em Sayson was shot by soldiers who had mistaken her and her companions as members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
The victim’s companions said they were carrying Sayson aboard a truck to a hospital after injuring herself in a fall. However, AFP soldiers chanced upon them and opened fired. One of Sayson’s companion was wounded in the incident.
Karapatan said military operations against the NPA in recent days have caused displacements of hundreds of families in the municipalities of Monkayo, Maragusan and New Bataan.
On August 7, soldiers from 69th and 71st infantry battalion launched six aerial bombings in Barangay Parasanon in Maragusan, destroying farms and forcing farmers to flee the village.
“These incidents only prove that there are no let up on military operations after President Duterte’s lifting of his unilateral ceasefire and that grave human rights violations are escalating,” said Karapatan Southern Mindanao Public Information Officer, Jay Apiag.
Apiag said the 66th IBPA has been camping in the community of Sitio Pongpong, Barangay Andap in New Bataan municipality after they clashed with a NPA armed unit in the nearby hinterlands. They have been doing this even before President Duterte’s declared unilateral ceasefire.
“The military has been staying in the community until now, and there are already reported incidents of food blockade, hamletting and harassments affecting 80 families in the said area,” said Apiag.
Another village in Purok 4, Kilometer 56, Barangay Rizal is also being hamletted.
A report said troops of the 71st Infantry Battalion illegally arrested a farmer, Ronie Escuardo, 29, of Barangay Parasanon, Mawab. He was reportedly brought to the headquarters of 10th ID and was misrepresented as a NPA member.
Karapatan issues an appeal to Duterte to act on these attacks on farmer communities.
“KARAPATAN will conduct a fact-finding mission to probe these recent cases of human rights violations, as we urge President Duterte to investigate and hear the sides of the civilian farmers and not the lies and spins of the military,” said Apiag.
He also urged President Duterte to stop the military operations, especially with the resumption of peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front on August 20.
“Duterte must rein in his Army who are violating human rights and acting as spoilers of peace,” Apiag said. [BicolToday.com]