By Joey Natividad
NAGA CITY (BicolToday.com/11-Dec-2012) – Several hundreds marched Naga City main streets on Monday, December 10, to celebrate the 64th year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The march is a synchronized move with other protesters in the other Bicol provinces, and other provinces nationwide.
There was no merry-making nor rejoice as the delegates coming from Camatines Sur’s far-flung areas had managed to slip through the tight militarized areas just to voice out their complaints of human rights violations in their places of residence. Some complained of fear while working on their farmlots, while others claimed that their kins were victims of military harassments. There were reports of extra-judicial killings, torture, and forced disappearances on civilians caught in the internal conflict..
“Amidst Oplan Bayanihan’s intensified attacks against the people, President Aquino’s government deserves nothing more from Bicolanos than condemnation and a reaffirmation of unrelenting fight versus the regime’s human rights violations as brought about by its counter-insurgency program,” declared John Concepcion, Karapatan-Bikol Spokesperson in Naga City.
Karapatan led Monday’s protest marches across the region in commemoration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Region-wide, an estimated 22 thousand protesters from all over Bicol are expected to flock the main streets as well as government and military establishments in their respective provinces to demand justice for victims of human rights violations, and call for the prosecution of perpetrators of these abuses.
“We draw specific attention to the punishment of the 49th Infantry Battalion, the 2nd IB, and the 42nd IB, all of which have committed grave abuses in recent months. These thugs and murderers are allowed to roam free of culpability – evident of the continuing impunity reminiscent of the horrors of Marcos’ Martial Law and GMA’s Oplan Bantay Laya,” Concepion added.
The Camarines Norte-based 49th IB is being held responsible for the massacre of Mancera family and the extra-judicial killing of Malaya Barangay Captain Merlyn Bermas.
Likewise, Karapatan-Bikol charges the 2nd IB for the spate of human rights abuses in 10 upland barangays of Guinobatan, Albay, and the murder and decapitation of Cabaloaon Barangay Councilman Eli Oguis. Also, the 42nd IB is also held culpable for the extra-judicial murder of Bayan Muna member Rodel Estrellado.
The rights group claimed the upsurge of human rights violations is systemic of Oplan Bayanihan, saying that “recrimination should be exacted from the commanders of the 9th Infantry Division”, which is encamped at Pili, Camarines Sur.
Karapatan blamed President Aquino himself, being the military’s Commander-in-Chief and the nation’s foremost ruler. Concepcion clarified, “This is what PNoy, as directed by his imperialist masters, intends to achieve. Just like his predecessor, he and his ilks in the bureaucracy and the AFP hope that the terror inflicted by Oplan Bayanihan will cause the poverty-stricken Filipino people to be subdued in their claim of basic rights to life and livelood.”
“But, the Bicol masses as Oragons aren’t a stifled lot. History bears accounts of united Bicolanos resolutely fighting all kinds of oppression and exploitation.” Concepcion recalled that, if in the past, Bicolanos together with Gen. Simeon Ola have firmly fought American aggressors, and have also effectively held back RP-US Balikatan in recent years, more so could Bicolanos struggle against such a clear and present danger as Oplan Bayanihan.
“Oplan Bayanihan does not give us land. On the contrary, its soldiers perpetuate CARP-ER which denies peasants of land to till. Oplan Bayanihan does not protect our livelihoods. Its menacing military patrols and operations prevent peasants from going to their farms, and workers from urban communities hindered from their jobs. Oplan Bayanihan does not provide us with education. In contrast, children cannot attend school when soldiers occupy their classrooms for barracks. Worse, our students are fed lies and are taught decadent manners by these so-called Peace and Development Teams. Oplan Bayanihan does not at all give us peace! For what peace is there when the people, incensed by the worsening crisis and discontent, are killed by government death squads?”, he continued.
Karapatan-Bikol recorded that under PNoy, Bicol has suffered the most number of extra-judicial killings among the regions, with recorded victims adding up to 34. These are civilians – mostly peasants – accused by the military of being NPA members or supporters.
Despite all these, the AFP is poised to intensify its counter-insurgency campaign, certainly aggravating human rights violations as the deadline for Oplan Bayanihan’s Phase 1 ends in 2013.
But for Karapatan-Bikol, December 10, 2012 will be unlike Human Rights Days of the past. This year’s commemoration will deeply forge among the Bicolano protesting masses their resolute stance to come together at all times, with all Oragon might, and face up to fight the human rights violations of the armed personnel of the state.
Concepcion said that “PNoy proves that there is no letting up in his vicious attack against the people. But the Bicolano masses, having nothing to lose but yokes of oppression, are very much resolved to denounce his regime and give him a good fight.” [BicolToday.com]
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