Lawmaker seeks probe into Davao’s ‘Paquibato massacre’

By: Lira Dalangin-Fernandez, –

17 June 2015

MANILA, Philippines — A party-list lawmaker said she will push for an
on-site investigation of the June 14 incident in Davao City’s Paquibato
district that the military claims was an encounter that left three
communist rebels dead but human rights groups are calling a massacre
that claimed the lives of a tribal leader and two church workers and
wounded a 12-year old child.

A peasant leader remains missing in the aftermath of the incident.

Gabriela Representative Luz Ilagan, who hails from Davao City, said the
June 14 military operation deliberately targeted “lumad” (indigenous)
communities in the guise of counterinsurgency.

“It has become too easy for military elements to kill just about anybody
and label them members of the New People’s Army,” Ilagan said. “The
military operation in Paquibato District in Davao City … is the most
recent evidence of the evil that military elements unleash on peasant
and lumad communities.”

Quoting the human rights group Karapatan, Ilagan said troops of the
Army’s 69th Infantry Battalion cordoned off and strafed the home of
peasant leader Aida Seisa in Purok 7, Paradise Embac.

The fatalities — Ata Manobo datu Ruben Enlog, Garyo Quimbo and Randy
Carnasa — were visiting Seisa when the operation took place. Seisa’s
daughter was wounded.

Although human rights organizations said Seisa, her husband and two
other children escaped, she has gone missing since then.

Pushing for the on-site investigation by Congress, which is currently on
break, Ilagan said hundreds of lumad families in Compostela Valley,
Agusan del Sur and Bukidnon provinces have also been displaced by
military operations.

“Years of the Philippine government’s snail-paced (and) almost
non-existent action on complaints of harassment and human rights
violations filed by peasant and indigenous communities against military
elements have given the latter a virtual license to further harass,
displace, abduct and even kill lumd with impunity,” she lamented.

Meanwhile, Karapatan staged a rally at the gate of AFP headquarters at
Camp Aguinaldo to protest the Paquibato “massacre.”

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, said the government
should pull out the military unit deployed to the Davao district.

“The terror should stop now,” she said.