ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-060-2016

30 May 2016
——————————————————
PHILIPPINES: Higaonon couple harassed in Agusan del Norte by members of Armed Forces

ISSUES: Indigenous people; Threat and intimidation
——————————————————

Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is deeply concerned about the harassment of the indigenous community by members of the 23rd Infantry Battalion in Agusan del Norte. After arbitrarily barging into the home of Circle and Magdalena, the soldiers opened fire and hit Magdalena as the couple ran away from their home in fear. Since 28 April 2016, the Higaonon ethnic minority has been harassed due to conflict between the Armed Forces and the rebels.

CASE DETAILS: (Based on the documentation by the Katungod Lumad Alert)

On 21 May 2016 at 1 p.m., Balud, a male member of the Higaonon ethnic minority, was gathering firewood in Sitio Bulak, Olave village, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte when members of the 23rd Infantry Battalion (IB) passed by. The military asked Balud to guide them to the center of Sitio Bulak. Upon reaching the center of Sitio Bulak, Balud ran away in fear of what else the military will have him do or will do once their operation is done. Chasing Balud, the military came upon the home of Circle Binungkusan and barged into it, shocking Circle and his wife Magdalena . The military asked who else was in the house, and Circle answered that they were all civilians there.

One soldier attempted to hit Circle and his wife with his M203 grenade launcher. Circle managed to grab his wife and his two-year-old child and run out of the house. No sooner than Circle and his family exited their house, the soldiers opened fire and destroyed their house, killing their pets and some poultry.

Some distance away when Circle turned to check on his wife, he saw that she was hit by shrapnel on her head, breast and thigh. She was rushed to the nearest hospital for immediate treatment.

When Circle returned to their home, he saw the place was ransacked. Their cell phone and his wife’s Department of Social Welfare and Development card for conditional cash transfer were missing. He also learned that the military asked around the community looking for them. The military stayed on for eight more hours and left at 1 a.m.

This incident was a continuation of the military harassment that began on April 28 after an armed encounter between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the New People’s Army in Sitio Kalaitan near Bulak. On May 6, the military bombed the nearby areas twice even though there was no return fire from the rebel group. This caused the communities to halt their daily activities and prepare to leave their homes once more. They had already evacuated when a similar military operation took place in March 2016.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write letters to the authorities listed below expressing your concern about the case.
The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people.

To support this case, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

PHILIPPINES: Higaonon couple harassed in Agusan del Norte by members of 23rd Infantry battalion

Name of harassed victims:
1. Balud, belong to Higaonon ethnic minority use as guide by the military.
2. Circle Binungkusan, belong to Higaonon ethnic minority.
3. Magdalena , wife of Circle. She was hit by shrapnel.
4. 2 year-old child of Circle Binungkusan and Magdalena .
Alleged Perpetrators: Members of 23rd Infantry Battalion
Date of incident: 21 May 2016
Place of incident: Sitio Bulak, Olave village, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte

I am writing to raise my serious concern on the harassment of indigenous people in Agusan del Norte.

On 21 May 2016 at 1 p.m., Balud, a male member of the Higaonon ethnic minority, was gathering firewood in Sitio Bulak, Olave village, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte when members of the 23rd Infantry Battalion (IB) passed by. The military asked Balud to guide them to the center of Sitio Bulak. Upon reaching the center of Sitio Bulak, Balud ran away in fear of what else the military will have him do or will do once their operation is done. Chasing Balud, the military came upon the home of Circle Binungkusan and barged into it, shocking Circle and his wife Magdalena . The military asked who else was in the house, and Circle answered that they were all civilians there.

One soldier attempted to hit Circle and his wife with his M203 grenade launcher. Circle managed to grab his wife and his two-year-old child and run out of the house. No sooner than Circle and his family exited their house, the soldiers opened fire and destroyed their house, killing their pets and some poultry.

Some distance away when Circle turned to check on his wife, he saw that she was hit by shrapnel on her head, breast and thigh. She was rushed to the nearest hospital for immediate treatment.

When Circle returned to their home, he saw the place was ransacked. Their cell phone and his wife’s Department of Social Welfare and Development card for conditional cash transfer were missing. He also learned that the military asked around the community looking for them. The military stayed on for eight more hours and left at 1 a.m.

This incident was a continuation of the military harassment that began on April 28 after an armed encounter between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the New People’s Army in Sitio Kalaitan near Bulak. On May 6, the military bombed the nearby areas twice even though there was no return fire from the rebel group. This caused the communities to halt their daily activities and prepare to leave their homes once more. They had already evacuated when a similar military operation took place in March 2016.

I urge you to investigate this case properly and ensure that the perpetrators are held accountable. Also, ensure the victim and his family are given adequate protection promptly should they decided to prosecute the case. Lastly, I urge you to ensure that RA 8371 or The Indigenous People’s Rights Act is used to uphold the rights of the indigenous people.
I trust that you will take appropriate action in these cases.

Yours sincerely,

——————————

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Benigno Aquino III
President
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

2. Mr. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Chairperson
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 929 0102

3. Police Director Ricardo Marquez
Chief
Philippine National Police (PNP)
Camp General Rafael Crame,
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax +632 7248763
Email: feedback@pnp.gov.ph

4. Mr. Emmanuel Caparas
Secretary
Department of Justice (DOJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
1004 Manila
PHILIPPINES
Telefax: +632 523-9548

5. Atty. Leonor T. Oralde-Quintayo
Chair
National Commission on Indigenous Peoples
2/F N. dela Merced Bldg. corner West &
Quezon Ave., Quezon City
Tel: +63 8373-9942
Email: chairpersonoffice@gmail.com

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (ua@ahrc.asia)

Read this UAC online

Visit our website with more features at www.humanrights.asia.

You can make a difference. Please support our work and make a donation here.

—————————–

Asian Human Rights Commission

G/F

52 Princess Margaret Road

Ho Man Tin, Kowloon

Hongkong S.A.R.

Tel: +(852) 2698-6339 Fax: +(852) 2698-6367

Web: www.humanrights.asia

twitter/youtube/facebook: humanrightsasia

__._,_.___