Dear friends,

Sharing with you a statement of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance – Karapatan on the recently concluded Solidarity and Peace Mission in Malibcong, Abra on April 3-6, 2017, for your news stories and reference. Please attribute data and views to CHRA-Karapatan. Thank you.

Karapatan Public Information Desk

We Want Genuine Peace in Our Land!

The people of Malibcong, Abra call for peace and expressed their support for the peace talks highlighting their demand for State security forces to uphold and fully adhere to all State obligations in their conduct of war.

The Kakailian Salakniban tay Amin a Nagtaudan (KASTAN) – the Abra provincial chapter of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), Abra Human Rights Movement (AHRM), Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA), Cordillera Elders Alliance (CEA), Karapatan National Alliance for Human Rights, Kabataan Partylist (KPL), Regional Ecumenical Council in the Cordillera (RECCORD), and Innabuyog-Cordillera strongly support the people’s calls and further demand for accountability of violators to be exacted.

Civilians have become targets in the recent intense military combat operations of the notorious 24th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) under the 7th Infantry Division (ID) led by Lt. Col. Tomas Dominic Baluga, known as the “Palparan Battalion.” The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) declared the municipality as a “hostile area” to justify military presence and actions. They also claim that “other groups and people” are required to get AFP permission before entering and holding activities in communities.

The AFP committed the following human rights and international humanitarian law violations as validated by a Peace Mission held in Malibcong, Abra this April 3-6, 2017:
• Curtailment of the right to mobility – people are not allowed to freely move within their community to visit and till their swidden farms and pastureland in Malibcong and the whole Malanas line. The AFP requires the people to present their valid ID or residence certificate before going in or out of the community. They were told not to go to the forests and that they have to seek permission or inform the military forces of their whereabouts and schedules before going out of the community.
• Food blockade – Entry or purchase of food in the community is limited, as the military troops suspect that if “extra” food is brought in, this will be given to the NPA.
• Encampment within residential area endangering civilians and several cases of violation of domicile
• Indiscriminate air strikes using phosphorus bombs resulting to the burning of the communal forest of the indigenous people of Mataragan and Bangilo.
• Illegal arrest and detention – 4 cases of illegal arrest and detention including 1 minor and 2 women.
• Threat/Harassment/Intimidation – Lt. Col. Baluga openly issued a threat against civilians suspected to be supporters of the New People’s Army in a community meeting. “Daytoy nga Bala biruken na ti kalaban na pati dagiti supporter na.” (Bullets will not only be used to hunt the enemy but also their supporters.)

We condemn all these violations of the the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) that have sown terror in the Mabaka Gubang and Banao ancestral domain.

Farming was disrupted since the indiscriminate bombings between the boundaries of Sitio Putol, Sitio Matalibeng, and Bangilo last March 16, 2017. Rice fields and swidden farms, the people’s main source of livelihood, are unattended. Economic activity is hampered because of fear. They are forced to stay inside the community without assurance that food will be available the next day.

Classes from Kinder to High School in Mataragan and Bangilo were suspended for one week after the bombing violating the children’s rights to education.

The Peace and Solidarity Mission organized by CHRA was not spared from intimidation. Lt. Col. Baluga and his troops attempted to bar the mission team from entering the community and holding activities in the area, despite compliance with protocol courtesy calls to appropriate local government units.

Inspite of this, the people of Brgys. Umnap, Buanao, Lat-ey, Paqued and Mataragan persisted to hold community assemblies as part of the Peace Mission as a statement to the AFP that the rights and welfare of the civilians should be upheld and protected, especially in a civil war. The harassments, surveillance, outright threats from the AFP failed to cow the people’s assertion of rights.

We call on the people to stand with the Mabaka, Gubang and Banao tribes and other militarized communities in the country. As the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) have resumed, we call for support for the CARHRIHL to be fully implemented, and for an independent investigation be conducted on the aerial bombing conducted by the AFP.

With the foreseen negative economic impact of the miltarization of the Malibcong, we also appeal for financial and material support for the people.

Scrap Oplan Kapayapaan! No to all-out war!
Stop militarization of indigenous communities!
Pull out AFP troops from ancestral domains and territories of national minorities!
Hold the 24th IBPA and the 7th ID accountable for their human rights and international humanitarian law violations!
Struggle for peace based on justice!

For reference:
Imelda Tabiando
Secretary General, CHRA-Karapatan
mobile number: 09189199007


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

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.