Fresh wave of military ops render 32 Lumad families homeless

May. 19, 2008

DAVAO CITY – Human rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao on Tuesday expressed its concern over the condition of the 32 families or about 149 Ata-Manobo and Matigsalog individuals who have been displaced because of the fresh wave of military operations in the hinterlands of Compostela town in Compostela Valley Province.

According to Karapatan-southern Mindanao secretary general Kelly Delgado the evacuees, who are now temporarily sheltered at the Compostela town gymnasium, came from Barangay Mangayon, Compostela. Delgado also reported that at least 83 of the displaced are children.

Delgado said that the residents left their village at around 9PM of Monday, May 12, after massive military operations were launched by the 1001st Brigade under Lt. Col. Alan Luga. According to the evacuees, military operations believed to be against the New People’s Army started at around 3PM of that same day. The residents fled for fear that they will be caught in the crossfire or be subjected again to military abuses, harassments and intimidations.

“Fear from the military drove the residents out of their village. And the people have the reason to fear the soldiers of the government because of their (military) bad record of violating basic rights of people. The military is ruthless and this ruthlessness is hounding the civilians who are often suspected as supporters of the NPA or worse, as members of the communist movement,” Delgado said.

Delgado said that the military has, in the past, frequently been reported to be behind “beating up and torturing civilians whenever they fail in their counter-insurgency activities.”

He cited the fate of five lumad residents of Mangayon at the hands of the military 28th Infantry Battalion under the command of Lt. Col. Bienvinido Datuin. These victims later filed complaints against the soldiers at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for physical assault, torture, harassment/threat/intimidation and violations of children rights .

“It is really alarming that the military operations against the NPA shatter the lives of the civilians, especially the lumad who have been consistently deprived of the appropriate attention that they need. The war of the military brings nothing but misery to lives of the civilians who are helpless and left with no other choice but to endure the ugly repercussions of war,” Delgado said.

Delgado called on the government, particularly the municipal and provincial leadership, to initiate urgent action to stop military operations in the area to prevent their constituents from suffering the effects of government-led atrocities.

“We demand the stop of the military operations as these lead to bloodshed and ruin the lives of the hapless civilians,” Delgado said.

For Reference:

KELLY M. DELGADO, Secretary General

Mobile # 09203500069

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