Farmers fear troop deployment in Baganga, New Bataan and Compostela towns

Apr. 27, 2008

Karapatan-Southern Mindanao said that military operations in the boundary towns of Baganga, Davao Oriental, New Bataan and Compostela, Compostela Valley are displacing farmer-residents in the area.

On an April 17 interview, Kelly M. Delgado, secretary-general of Karapatan-Southern Mindanao, said that human rights abuses have been committed in the ongoing military operations in the boundary areas of the three towns.

“In sitios Macupa, Biangonan, Binantal, Cabetian and Uduan in barangay Manurigao, municipality of New Bataan, over 60 families (332 individuals) were forcibly evacuated from their homes on April 6 and April 13.

“The evacuees took refuge in the barangay center of Manurigao and the Mandaya villages in New Bataan. Others stayed in the houses of their relatives,” Delgado said.

“During the pulong-pulong (small meeting) convened by the army soldiers, the residents were told not to go to their farms so that they would not be suspected as New People’s Army (NPA) members in the area. Upon hearing this, residents decided to leave their farms and houses,” Delgado said.

“On April 5, close to 200 soldiers with complete armory arrived at Spur Dos primary school in sitio Spur Dos, barangay Ngan. Since then, they’ve been camping in school property. They also use the church nearby,” Delgado said.

On April 15, soldiers harassed the chairperson and three members of the Quarry Farmers Association in barangay Ngan of Compostela town, Delgado said. He said that the group’s chairperson, Regino Lazula, 54, was also accused of coddling members of the NPA.

“The trend and conduct of military operations of the army soldiers in the three towns and municipalities will escalate the occurrence of human rights abuses against the farmers. It further proved that the army soldiers are continuously violating human rights and International Humanitarian Law,” Delgado said.

Delgado said that the military operations are actually “clearing operations” to facilitate the entry of large-scale mining operations after President Arroyo created the Investment Defense Force to secure “vital mining and other investments,” in the area.

“We demand a stop to the military operations because civilian lives and properties are at stake,” Delgado said. “We urge the provincial and local governments of the areas affected, including the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), to investigate the recent military abuses. We are also urging the commanders of the army soldiers to respect human rights and the international humanitarian law,” Delgado said.

For reference:
Kelly M. Delgado
secretary general
Contact number: 09203500069

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