Human rights cost rising in Sorsogon military offensive

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SORSOGON CITY, 2June2014 ( — Continuing military operations since April by the 31st IBPA, 5th Scout Ranger Coy and other units under the 903rd Brigade in Sorsogon Province have taken a toll on civilians, affecting their livelihood, suffering income losses, and rising human rights violations, reports reached online news yesterday.

Elias Garduque, a family bread winner, was killed, his wife and a one-year old infant were wounded when Army soldiers May 23 assaulted a rebel unit taking a rest near their house at Barangay Balocaue, Matnog. The soldiers, several hours later, permitted the wounded mother- and-child to be brought by residents to the hospital. Worse, the mother and her dead husband were branded by the Army as “rebels”.

Last April 27, after an encounter between state security forces and rebel units in Bulan, this province, Barangay Captain Eddie Albor of Barangay Cocobitan was unlawfully detained and was wrongfully accused as member of the rebel group. He was coerced to sign a paper testifying that a slain rebel in a previous encounter was a “top-ranked commander” in exchange for his freedom, but until now he is still under detention at Sorsogon City District Jail. The ploy for him to sign the papers prepared by an Army official was to enable Army officials to get the reward money dangled by the government. (see related news on reward money . . .)

In another incident at Barangay San Juan, Casiguran, angry Army soldiers threatened village residents with death after suffering a casualty when rebel team successfully staged an ambush last April 29.

Joseph Benson,a civilian of Barangay Inlagadian, Casiguran, was shot dead May 9, He was walking his way home after attending a wake near an Army detachment. Later, the Army unit admitted killing Benson as he was a suspected rebel.

The Masujer family lost their motorized fishing boat to Army soldiers after they forcibly took their fishing boat during saturated military operations in the hinterlands and coastal areas of Bulan and Matnog. The soldiers threatened the Masujer family while claiming their fishing boat is owned by the rebel organization. Out of fear, the Masujer family left their home and hid among relatives. Deprived of income from fishing, they depend on the generosity of relatives and friends for subsistence. []


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