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July 20, 2018
75th IBPA CRUEL AND UNRELENTING IN ITS ATTACK AGAINST THE LIANGA EVACUEES
Karapatan-Caraga strongly condemns the 75th IBPA of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police in Lianga and the Duterte government in their unrelenting and cruel attacks of the Lianga evacuees. Not content with forcing 326 Lumad families with 1,607 individuals from 15 communities to leave their communities last July 16, 2018 due to military encampment and various human rights violations, they deprived the Lumad respite from the 9 kilometer hike from their communities by stopping them at the highway.
Although successful in seeking sanctuary at the barangay gym in Diatagon, Lianga, the evacuees are constantly being harassed and their security threatened.
On July 18, 2018, at around 11:30 in the morning, soldiers of the 75th IBPA prevented church people from delivering relief goods and providing support for the evacuees, telling them that they should not “… support the evacuees so they will be forced to return to their communities”.
At around 12 noon a military truck was deployed around 50 meters from the evacuation center and 10 fully armed soldiers were posted, accompanied by Magahat-Bagani paramilitary leader Marcos Bocales who, using the military’s sound system spewed accusations against the evacuees, its organization Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU), Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) and Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), branding them as NPA and NPA supporters. They established military posts in the four (4) roads leading to the evacuation center where 75th IBPA troops interrogated civilians passing by. They also warned residents against visiting the evacuees.
At around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, officials of Brgy. Diatagon and personnel for the Municipal Social Welfare Department (MSWD) went to the center and pressured the evacuees into returning to their communities, telling them that there was no fire fight so there was no reason to evacuate. They offered free rides back, which the evacuees declined. They threatened the evacuees that a military guard house will be set up in front of the evacuation center if they do not return to their communities.
At around 4 o’clock in the afternoon, a military post was set up in front of the gate of the evacuation center where seven (7) 75th IBPA and three (3) PNP personnel with long firearms were stationed. Marcos Bocales of the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary again accused the evacuees of being NPA supporters. Another unknown speaker threatened to remove the names of the evacuees from the list of 4P beneficiaries.
At night, the evacuees are constantly disturbed by the very loud sound system playing movies at the military post just outside the evacuation center.
Today, July 20, 2018, five (5) PNP, two (2) 75th IBPA troops along with six (6) personnel from the Lianga Social Development and Welfare Department office forcibly opened the gates of the evacuation center, without the evacuees’ consent, purportedly to feed lugaw (porridge) to the evacuees. They then refused to close the gates despite the evacuees’ requests as they do not feel safe with gates open and the 75th IBPA and paramilitary’s presence. When requested by the evacuees, an MSWD personnel told them that they can do whatever they want because they are the only one mandated by law to care for the evacuees.
Military checkpoints have also been set up by the military in the highway going to Tandag City where vehicles are stopped, passengers made to alight, line up and show their IDs. The military asked travelers who among them were evacuees.
These are cruel acts meant to pressure the Lumad evacuees to allow the AFP to build military detachments, to make the people cower into submission and to be passive amidst military abuses including the disrespect of women and children. This is meant to badger the Lumad into allowing the entry of five (5) coal mining companies into their ancestral lands in the Andap Valley Complex. This is how President Duterte is delivering on his promise last February 1, 2018 at the IP Leaders’ Summit in Davao City when he said that he will chose investors in the Andap Valley Complex and that the Lumad should prepare for evacuation.
History has shown that the Lumad in the communities of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU) will always remain steadfast in their opposition to the destruction of ancestral lands in accordance with their sacred duty as stewards of the national patrimony and the environment.