National Solidarity Mission

Initial Report

October 1, 2014

The National Solidarity Mission (NSM) on Sept. 28-Oct.1 in Lacub, Abra was held in response to the reports of human rights and international humanitarian law violations committed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines , specifically the 41st Infantry Battalion, in the course of their military operation in the said municipality. The NSM was hosted by TULBEK and KASTAN with the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance. It was participated in by more than a hundred delegates from different regions and from national organizations.

The NSM validated the following findings:

A. AFP conducted military operations in Lacub that on September 4 – 6 resulted in two incidents of firefight with the New People’s Army (NPA).

B. War crimes under Republic Act 9851[1] observed to have been committed by the AFP:

1. Use of civilians to render the AFP operating troops immune from military attack.

§ Around 100 AFP soldiers forcibly interspersed themselves with 16 residents from Guinguinabang and eight from Poblacion on the way back carrying with them the cadaver of their slained kailian, Ricardo Reyes aka Tubong and compelling Nicasio Asbukan as first man. On the way, firefight ensued resulting to the death of Noel Viste.

§ Richard Borgonia (earlier reported Norberto) who, on Sept 3, was in the mountain looking for his carabao, was detained for 12 hours by troops of the 41st IBPA headed by Lt. Mark de los Santos . Borgonia was forced to admit he was a member of the New People’s Army and was coerced by the AFP troops to join their column and serve as first man. A search team from his village was formed that day to search for him. He was only released to them close to 9 pm that same day.

2. Intentionally embedding a military detachment near a clinic, an elementary and high school and inside a residential area in Sitio Bantugo to render themselves immune from attack.

3. Intentionally directing attacks against civilians of Talampac on September 5 by shooting their guns towards the residential areas.

4. Extrajudicial killing of Engr. Fidela Salvador, personnel of Cordillera Disaster Response and Development Services (CorDis-RDS) who happens to be in Lacub doing evaluation of projects. Autopsy report indicates multiple lacerations and massive hematoma over the back of the head and gunshot wounds, all entering at the lower back and left and right buttocks exiting at the left shoulder.

5. Crimes committed against NPA combatants:

§ Willful killing of Recca Noelle Monte whose autopsy report indicates no gunshot wound and instead died from blunt traumatic injuries on the head, face and chest;

§ Mutilation/desecration of bodies of dead NPAs.

6. Use of children to monitor activities of TULBEK and whereabouts of their leaders.

Other probable war crimes:

1. Killing of wounded NPAs who probably have laid down their arms or no longer have means of defense or have surrendered. This is a strong probability in the case of Arnold Jaramillo. Jaramillo’s body was riddled with multiple gunshot wounds involving his back and lower extremities, with one particular GSW fired at close-range that the skin surrounding the bullet’s point of entry had a burnt appearance. The NBI autopsy report also stated that both his arms were riddled with bullets down to his wrists and thumbs. Due to the multiple gunshot wounds, his internal organs appeared “macerated”, that is his body appeared porous like a “sponge”. There was also a massive laceration of his upper lip, that his upper and lower jaws were fractured “shattering both jaws inward into his throat, necessitating the embalmer to insert cement into his mouth to keep the architecture of his mouth intact”.

2. Not providing quarter – “No quarter will be given” means refusing to spare the life of anybody, even of persons manifestly unable to defend themselves or who clearly express their intention to surrender.” (R.A. 9851)

C. Indigenous Peoples Rights Violations

1. The AFP, through their military operations, did not allow the Binongan people, especially those in Gacab and Guinguinabang, to conduct their ritual for those who died within their ancestral domain.

2. Violation of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) on military detachments and military activities.

§ Disregarding petition of the community against military detachment in their ancestral domain.

§ No FPIC was conducted before the military operation was conducted.

D. Impacts of Militarization

The military operations have affected the health of the following:

1. Direct victims and their family

2. Women and children

3. Indirect victims

The operation has resulted to the worsening of the almost non-existent and inaccessible health services in the hinterland communities of Lacub. Worse, the targets include civilian population with impunity, intent on sowing fear and forcing subservience.

As such, majority of the patients seen (25%) manifest acute stress disorder with some chronic depression. For the adults, psychosomatic symptoms and panic attacks attributed to trauma were noted, such as: insomnia, hyper-vigilance, nightmares and fidgeting. Also noted were headaches, intense fear associated with loud noises, memories of those who died and while passing through the site of incident. Some have hypertension and palpitations.

Doubly affected are the vulnerable population of women, children and elderly. Psychosocial debriefing of children aged 9-13 studying in the Bantugo elementary and high school which is right beside the military camp shows that they fear the military and secretly wish that they vacate Lacub immediately.

Unfortunate also is the attitude displayed by certain public officials who, instead of fulfilling their servant-leader role of ensuring the people’s right to health as guaranteed by our constitution and international covenants, choose not to. Instead of providing health services to the people at all cost, at any time and in any condition, they cite such reasons as areas being “critical” and withdraw even the local health personnel.

The repressive instruments of government, the AFP and government willfully destroy the spirit of community well embraced by and weaved into the culture of the people of Lacub, with the overall intention of lowering their morale and will to fight.

They make the people more sick, they make the people suffer. They murder the people. They are liable to for the continuous violation on the health and social rights of the people of Lacub.

The economic life of the people has been disrupted as well and this has an immediate impact on the lack of food in the community and in the long-term, a significantly low agricultural produce. A significant 20% of their produce is lost.

E. People’s Response

The people of Lacub and the National Solidarity Mission uphold and reiterate the recommendations of the CHRA Urgent Action Alert regarding the military operations:

1. We call for a stop to the operations in Lacub, Abra to ensure the protection of civilians

2. Immediately pull-out the 41st IBPA and other AFP units from Lacub, Abra to ensure the impartial and thorough investigation of human rights and international humanitarian law violations

3. Justice for the extrajudicial killing of Engr. Fidela Salvador.

4. Justice for Noel Viste and other victims of human rights and international humanitarian law violations by the 41st IBPA.

5. Hold the Armed Forces of the Philippines accountable for its grave war crimes.

6. Prosecution of the perpetrators of the violations and ensure that accountability is demanded in full from the 41st IBPA, the 5th Infantry Division, the Northern Luzon Command of the AFP and from Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino Jr. as commander-in-chief

7. We call for the withdrawal of Oplan Bayanihan, the Philippine government’s counter-insurgency program that targets civilians.

8. We call on the Philippine government to observe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all the major Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law instruments to which it is a party and signatory to, including the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

9. Resume the Peace Talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

[1] Republic Act 9851 “Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and other Crimes Against Humanity”

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PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
publicinfo@karapatan.org
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Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights

2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts. , Central District

Diliman, Quezon City , PHILIPPINES 1101

Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146

Web: http://www.karapatan.org

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.