By Joey Natividad, Special Correspondent
NAGA CITY (BicolToday.com/13 Dec. 2011) – Several hundreds peasants and activists launched a rally in Naga City’s main streets in celebrating International Human Rights Day on Saturday (December 10), but protesters marched in indignation, bewailing latest rights abuses committed by Army soldiers on one of their leaders Friday.
The incident happened Friday, the day before the scheduled rally, in a mountain village of Iriga City, Camarines Sur, about 39 kilometers southeast of Naga, when Army soldiers held a peasant leader inside her house and barred her from leaving.
Jocelyn Sirios, a peasant leader in Iriga City claimed several Army soldiers entered her house in Barangay Niño Jesus and prevented her from leaving her house, an effort to prevent her from mobilizing residents to join Naga’s scheduled human rights rally the following day. Sirios is coordinator of Camarines Sur People’s Organization, a peasant group under the umbrella organization, Kilusang Mambubukid ng Pilipinas.
“Three Army soldiers visited us in the morning and subjected us to endless questioning and insinuations that we are allegedly harboring rebels inside our house and providing food for them,” said Sirios. Her husband, Renante, claimed that a soldier mildly slapped him on the cheeks in attempt to intimidate him. The couple claimed that an officer questioned them on why they have been joining human rights rally for the last few years every December 10.
The couple said the soldiers stayed inside their house from morning until late in the afternoon. During their stay, the soldiers questioned the spouses separately, fishing for information and subjecting them in stressful situations.
The intruders were among some 80 Army soldiers fielded out in the village that Friday, and village folks claimed their presence had instilled fear among residents. The soldiers left the Sirious residence in late afternoon just before twilight.
Sensing the absence of Army soldiers that early Saturday morning, Sirious and her village group managed to slip through and joined the Human Rights Day rally in Naga City. BicolToday.com
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