Soldiers harrass New Bataan militant leaders

Dec. 15, 2008

Davao City — Karapatan southern Mindanao strongly condemns the 66th infantry battallion for harrassing two members of groups in New Bataan, Compostela Valley Province.

Julito Degamo, 33, chairman of New Bataan Farmers Association (NEBFA)-Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Meriro Poquita, 41, chairman of Concerned Citizen for People’s Rights (CCPR), an affiliate of Karapatan, observed that they were constantly being monitored by soldiers assigned in the area.

Poquita was also interrogated by 2nd Lt. Gerald Malidom of the 66th infantry battallion (IB) inside the barangay hall of brgy. Cabinuangan, New Bataan, Compostela Valley Province on November 13. This was the second time she was questioned during the whole time she has been involved in campaigns for justice. Both times she was accused as a sympathizer and supporter of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the area.

Meanwhile, five unidentified elements of the 66th IB went to the house of Degamo on November 15, a day after the burial of Danilo Qualbar, the Bayan Muna party-list cluster coordinator shot to death early this month.

Another set of five soldiers returned on November 18, again looking for Degamo.

Karapatan secretary general Kelly M. Delgado said that these efforts of the 66th IB targeting militant leaders in the area is very alarming. Delgado said that their actions were in line with Oplan Bantay Laya 1 &2. In this operation plan of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), after soldiers get the profile of militant leaders, they will be liquidated by mercenary agents of the state.

Delgado added that another CCPR member, Lucia Polinar, 48, was vilified by members of the 66th IB during a census that they took last November 1 and called a revolutionary tax collector of the NPA. Polinar reported that soldiers constantly monitor her house Purok 1, Brgy. Cabinuangan, New Bataan, ComVal and even take video footages.

According to the leader of the militant human rights group, Polinar, Poquita and Degamo went to Karapatan late one night last week to ask for help and shelter, fearing for their safety.

“(The actions of the military) are clear and blatant attacks on civil and political rights of civilians . Clearly, elements of 66th IB ignores and grossly violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Comprehensive Agreement for the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)” Delgado said.

Karapatan does not want any more victims of extra-judicial killings in New Bataan. “The military rule in New Bataan and the terror they spread among the civilians’ communities is a concrete condition that New Bataan is in State of Martial Law.” Delgado said.

Karapatan urges the local officials in New Bataan and Compostela Valley Province to assert civilian supremacy and to prevent government soldiers from taking over their area. #

For reference:

Kelly M. Delgado

Contact number: 0920-350-0069

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