State forces file charges vs 23 Lumad, rights defenders in Mindanao
“The fabricated charges against them have no merit at all, and all of
the allegations are merely products of the AFP’s utak-pulbura imagination.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL, Bulatlat.com –
15 July 2015
MANILA – Gabriela Women’s Partylist Rep. Luz Ilagan and human rights
group Karapatan denounced state forces for filing trumped-up charges
against at least 23 Lumad leaders, child’s rights advocates and human
rights defenders in Mindanao.
The charges were filed by the Philippine National Police Criminal
Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG), PNP-Alabel, soldiers of
the 73rd Infantry Battalion Philippine Army (IBPA) in separate
complaints before the city prosecutor in Davao City, and before the
provincial prosecutor in Malapatan and Alabel towns, Sarangani province.
In Davao city, the PNP-CIDG filed kidnapping, serious illegal detention
and violations of Anti-Trafficking Act against 13 human rights workers,
including those who are involved in the campaign to demilitarize Lumad
schools, namely, Gabriela Southern Mindanao secretary general Mary Ann
Sapar, and Salinlahi Alliance for Children secretary general Kharlo
Manano, who are both part of the Save Our Schools Network.
The same charges were filed against Rev. Jurie Jaime of the Promotion of
Church People’s Response-Southern Mindanao Region (SMR); Sheena Duazo,
of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-SMR; Hanimay Suazo, secretary general of
Karapatan-SMR; Tony Salubre, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-SMR; Rius
Valle of the Children’s Rehabilitation Center-SMR; Jaja Necosia of Kilab
Multimedia; Kerlan Fenagel, Sr. secretary general of the Lumad group
Pasaka; Isidro Andao, spokesperson of Pasaka; Sr. Stella Matutina of the
RMP, and John Does.
Manano told Bulatlat.com that they learned about the charges against
them on July 9, but had not received any copy of the complaint.
In Sarangani, state forces filed charges of attempted murder, inciting
to sedition, violations of the law for the protection of children, and
International Humanitarian Law, against Rev. Allen Bill Veloso,
chairperson of Karapatan-Socsksargen; and Pastor Sadrach Sabella,
secretary general of Karapatan- Socsksargen and 10 others, namely: Lumad
indigenous leaders Anelfa Gemilo, Lorna Mora and Junard Cayamba of
Kaluhhamin, Lorencio Teo of Makasdalu, Nestor Masalon of Kafye de Lagad,
Ryan Lariba of Bayan Socsksargen, UCCP Rev. Roger Rafalez, Marlo Magramo
of Bayan Muna, Mercedes Arlene Alonzo and Marmar Cawan of Center for
Lumad Advocacy and Services (Clans).
Ilagan lambasted the the CIDG for singling out those involved in the
Save Our Schools campaign.
“They accused activist leaders and child rights advocates of trafficking
and kidnapping Lumad children and families who have evacuated to Davao
City, and in some instances, brought their appeal to government offices
in Manila, to save Lumad schools from being occupied and damaged by AFP
elements. These acts do not constitute trafficking or kidnapping,”
Karapatan also said that in 2014 and this year, Suazo has experienced
surveillance, threats and harassment from suspected elements of the 69th
IBPA, which Karapatan had called the “Palparan battalion,” under Maj.
Gen. Eduardo Año, the erstwhile 10th Infantry Division chief, whom
President Aquino picked to head the Philippine Army today.
Sabella, meanwhile, is reportedly on the military’s Order of Battle list.
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said those charged have
supported victims of human rights violations “who were killed, tortured
and forcibly evacuated due to military operations of the 10th ID and the
73rd IB in Mindanao.”
“Because of this, they have been called ‘enemies of the state,’
repeatedly vilified, and are now facing reprisals because of their human
rights work,” Palabay said.
Ilagan said that in November last year, the Save Our Schools Network
brought their plight to the attention of the House of Representatives
Committee on National Cultural Communities and also engaged the
Department of Education in dialogues, including one held just last week.
A dialogue was also held with Bishop Romulo Valles of the Catholic
Bishops Conference of the Philippines.
The SOS network lobbied in the Senate last week and received positive
response from the offices of Senators Grace Poe and Pia Cayetano. There
is also a pending resolution at the Senate, which was filed by Sen.
Miriam Santiago to investigate the shutdown of Lumad schools in Mindanao.
The Save our Schools campaign was launched in 2012. Last year, students
and teachers of the Lumad schools joined the Manilakbayan ng Mindanao to
bring their campaign to the National Capital Region.
The SOS Network is composed of different groups from Mindanao regions,
and Manila-based groups such as the Alliance of Concerned Teachers and
Ilagan said the trumped-up charges are meant to harass, scare and
demoralize Lumad and child rights advocates who have effectively exposed
the human rights and international humanitarian law violations committed
by the AFP in Mindanao under Aquino’s counter-insurgency program Oplan
Palabay said they will hold the Armed Forces of the Philippines
accountable for any further violation against the rights of the said
human rights defenders.
“The fabricated charges against them have no merit at all, and all of
the allegations are merely products of the AFP’s utak-pulbura
imagination,” Palabay said. (http://bulatlat.com)
Gabriela calls out gov’t for persecuting activists
by Ma. Cecilia Badian, Mindanao Times –
15 July 2015
THE GABRIELA Party List slammed the government for unfair treatment of
activists as the group is also campaigning to demilitarize Lumad schools
in Davao Region.
Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan, representative of the group, in a statement
described the kidnapping and trafficking charges against advocates for
child and IP rights “as vile harassment and persecution.”
Based on the logbook of the City Prosecution Office, 16 individuals are
The Eastern Mindanao Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit filed
kidnapping charges and illegal detention on May 12 against Mary Ann
Sapar, Gabriela Southern Mindanao secretary general; Kharlo Manano,
Salinlahi Alliance for Children secretary general; Rev. Jurie Jaime,
Sheena Duazo, Hanimay Suazo, Ryan Lariba, Tony Salubre, Jimong Marciano,
Jaja Necosia, Pedro Arnaldo, Kerlan Fanagel, Sr. Stella Matutina, Sr.
Restita Miles, Isidro Andao, Riuz Valle and many John Does.
“The CIDG specifically singled out activists involved in the campaign to
demilitarize the Lumad schools,” the statement read. “They accused
activist leaders and child rights advocates of trafficking and
kidnapping Lumad children and families who have evacuated to Davao City
and in some instances, brought their appeal to save Lumad schools from
being occupied and damaged by AFP elements to government offices in Manila.”
“These acts do not constitute trafficking or kidnapping. The charges
filed are ridiculous and totally baseless,” said Ilagan.
Ilagan also said the charges are meant to derail efforts to allow Lumad
schools to operate anew.
Ilagan cited that for several months, Lumad schools operated by the
Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon and Mindanao Interfaith Services
Foundation Inc. have been forcibly shut down by military elements with
volunteer teachers and students accused of being members or supporters
of the New People’s Army.
“The trumped up charges are meant to harass, scare and demoralize Lumad
and child rights advocates who have effectively exposed the human rights
and international humanitarian law violations committed by the AFP in
Mindanao under Aquino’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan,”
The Department of Education has since given the Salugpungan permits to
reopen the Lumad schools.
“The attacks on Lumad schools and communities have worsened under
Aquino. With this recent development, the Aquino government further
unveils its vile character, making children and indigenous communities
targets of its operations. We will not cower and we will not be muted.”
Andy Whitmore (Whit)
Indigenous Peoples Links (PIPLinks)
Finspace, 225-229 Seven Sisters Road, London, N4 2DA
Ph: +44 (0)775 439 5597
“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the
intelligent are full of doubt.” – Bertrand Russell