Abducted, Blindfolded, Tortured, Molested

Jan. 08, 2007

One day in November, two NGO workers were abducted by soldiers in a village in North Cotabato. They were forcibly brought to a military detachment where they were blindfolded, interrogated, tortured and sexually molested. The soldiers tried to force them to admit that they were communist guerillas.

ABUSED AND SHAMED. Lourilie and Bernadette said the soldiers threatened to push them off a cliff. (davaotoday.com photo by Cheryll D. Fiel)

By Cheryll D. Fiel

DAVAO CITY When Lourilie Naiz and Bernadette Solitario went to a remote village in North Cotabato on Nov. 4, they thought it was going to be an ordinary day. As staff members of the General Santos City-based Disaster Response Center (Direct), they were used to visiting farflung areas.

That day, Lourilie , 22, and Bernadette, 21, were headed for Batang, a village in Tulunan town to check reports that residents there had evacuated after an armed encounter between government soldiers and the communist New Peoples Army (NPA).

It was a task that was part of Directs work as a partner of the Manila-based Citizens Disaster Response and Rehabilitation Center (CDRC), which has been implementing the Aid to the Uprooted People Programme (AUPP) in 62 conflict areas in Mindanao. The program was funded by the European Union.

Tulunan Mayor Nestor Taasan knew that the two NGO workers were entering Batang and had assured them that it was safe to go to there. Batang is one of the project areas of the AUPP.

But eight armed men in civilian clothes, on motorcycles that bore no plates, held the two women for about half an hour until a maroon pickup truck brought them to the 39th Infantry Battalion headquarters in Makilala. The four motorcycles, which followed the pickup for a while, went to the direction of the 27th Infantry Battalion detachment upon reaching Tulunan’s village of New Panay.

Their ordeal, which they recounted to davaotoday.com, highlighted the several forms of abuse that women in Southern Mindanao went through in 2006. (See related story.)


Lourilie said she was blindfolded and brought into a room where the men tried to force her to admit that she was NPA guerilla.

When she reasoned that she is a staff of an NGO funded by the European Commission, she was told that the NGO was a front of the NPA and that, according to the soldiers, the European Union is a communist country.”

“They threatened to push me off a cliff and pretended they had already finished digging my grave,” Lourilie said. “They took a picture of me holding a signboard that says that I am an NPA liaison.”

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