06 September 2015/UA-X-001-15
No let up in military harassment of Talaandig, Manobo tribals after Pangantucan massacre
At around 1:00 pm of 5 September 2015, government troops instructed residents of Block Otso, Barangay Mendis, Pangantucan town, in Bukidnon province, that all children aging 8 years old and above must attend their “dialogue” to tackle the issue of the presence of the New People’s Army in their area.
This military order on residents to round up and indoctrinate children constitutes serious violations of the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The state troops’ herding of children for purposes of counter insurgency operations clearly violates international humanitarian law.
Since yesterday, one battle tank and two military trucks filled with troops of Armed Forces of the Philippines in full battle gear are positioned and are currently encamped in the Mendis Barangay Hall while they continuously threaten and harass local residents.
Sitio Block Otso is where the relatives of the “Panagantucan 5”, the incident referring to the extrajudicial killing of five (5) indigenous Lumads, including two (2) minors, reside. Victims Emer Somina, Ramil Somina, Norman Samia, Jobert Samia and Herminio Samia, all belonging to the Talaandig and Manobo Lumad tribes, were brutally killed inside their hut around 3:30 pm of August 18, 2015 in Sityo Lisiyon, Mendis, Pangantucan, Bukidnon.
These harassments came after the recently concluded Solidarity Mission by an independent body comprised of more than 200 participants coming from different religious congregations, sectors, and human rights groups held from August 31 through September 02 to investigate the massacre.
Results of the mission clearly indicated the involvement of the 1st Special Forces Battalion in the massacre of a group of unarmed Lumad farmers, despite prior claims made by the AFP that what occurred was a legitimate encounter between them and members of the New People’s Army. The mission team was also able to document other human rights and international humanitarian law violations such as two cases of frustrated extrajudicial killing, 30 cases of threats, harassment and intimidation, divestment of property, destruction of property, food and other economic blockade, and four cases of use of civilians as guides in military operations, among other violations.
The mission delegates were harassed by AFP troops during their short program and suspected security agents in plain clothes joined the activity just to take pictures of the delegates. On their way out, a military blockade was set up on the exit road of Block Otso so they could stop the delegation and forced each one to sign their names on a log book.
The fact-finding team was maligned by AFP officials as members and supporters of the NPA. Officers of the 4th Infantry Batallion unremorsefully claimed that the Lumads were massacred by the NPA. Yet facts show that this is the fourth massacre and a similar incident involving the AFP’s 1st Special Forces Battalion within the year. Other violations perpetrated by the military unit include the massacres in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental.
Barug katungod is in one with the Solidarity Mission Team in its call for aid to the Talaandig and Manobo tribals and to demand the authorities to stop these harassments. We call on the Commission on Human Rights and the Local Government Units of Pangantucan town and the Province of Bukidnon to bring the 1st Special Forces/4th Infantry Division to account for their crimes. We call on the Philippine state to adhere to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and other international human rights and international law instruments. The Philippine state is a recidivist state in terms of violating these instruments with impunity.
The Solidarity Mission calls for the immediate pull-out of the AFP encamping in the area and an end to human rights violations against peasants and indigenous peoples. -Barug Katungod Mindanao
(Sources: Karapatan-Northern Mindanao; Kalumbay Regional Indigenous Peoples Alliance)
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