Military insists, “We will not leave Paquibato”

Nov. 16, 2012

Paniza’s announcement came after a week the Davao City Council approved a resolution exhorting the military to pullout its detachments from civilian structures such as schools and village halls.

Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) 10th Infantry Division said that its unit, the 69th Infantry Battalion, “will not leave Paquibato.”

Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, 10th ID-AFP’s spokesperson said in an emailed statement, they have even identified “a strategic area” where the 69th IB’s headquarters will be transferred from Panabo City to Paquibato area “in due time.”

Paniza’s announcement came after a week the Davao City Council approved a resolution exhorting the military to pullout its detachments from civilian structures such as schools and village halls.

In October 20, Councilor Jimmy Dureza personally witnessed that a military detachment was set up in Pandaitan’s village hall and daycare center.

Children’s rights group Kabiba, in the October 6 Peace and Humanitarian Mission in Pandaitan village, has also documented the actual encampment of said government troops in these civilian structures.

The situation, the City Council Resolution said, is disturbing not only to residents but to non-residents as well, “knowing the danger that detachments pose to the communities should hostilities take place.”  The resolution also stated that in times of civil unrest, vigilance will help “not to aggravate the peace and order situation especially in far-flung areas.”

The scope of the resolution was originally limited to Paquibato District’s Pandaitan, Lumiad and Mabuhay villages.  But, having seen detachments within civilian communities as “detrimental to the lives of the residents and school children,” the scope was extended to the entire city.

“The mere presence of armed men in uniform threatens and even endangers the lives of many people, including communities nearby,” the resolution said which was authored by First District Representative lawyer Leah Librado-Yap.

But, according to Paniza, the 10th ID has “not yet received any official document of the resolution.”  He added, though, that even before the said City Council Resolution was passed, they “have already complied on the said request” with the military already leaving the “convergence areas and relocated its temporary patrol bases away from the communities.”

To “monitor and verify” the military’s statement, Kabiba vowed to visit Paquibato villages.

“We saw right before our eyes on how the soldiers have made the barangay hall and daycare center as their detachment,” said Kabiba’s Program Officer, Lovey Caragao, in a statement.

She added, they also interviewed the day care teacher in Pandaitan, whom she said, “lamented on the disruption of classes” while some of her pupils were not attending their classes “for fear of heavily armed men in uniform and possible encounter with armed rebels.”

The children’s rights group scored the military for “attacking schools” and “violating children’s democratic right to education.”

The military encampment in schools, according to Kabiba, is a violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.  It specified Article 12, Part IV, which stipulated for the protection of civilian population especially children against risk and dangers posed by the presence of military camps in populated areas.  It also added that the military violated Section 22-e, Article X of the Republic Act 7610 (the Special Protection of Children Act) which prohibits the military to make public structures as their command posts, barracks, detachments and supply depots.

“The military has no basis under the law to use civilian facilities as barracks or detachments.  They should leave,” said Mary Ann Sapar of the Gabriela Women’s Party Southern Mindanao.

Sapar said that “extensive documentation” of rights groups pointed to the “extreme risk” that military detachments pose to civilians, especially women and children.

Militarization, she said, is one of the “seven deadly sins against women” that includes rape and incest; sexual harassment; domestic violence: sex trafficking, white slavery, and prostitution; sexual discrimination; inaccessibility or limited access to maternal health and childcare and; violence as a result of state repression.

“To protect our communities, especially women and children, who are most vulnerable to violence and harassment, and who comprise most of the ‘bakwet’ and victims of forced evacuations and forcible displacements, military detachments must be removed from these areas,” Gabriela said.

As the military insists on not leaving the Paquibato District, Librado-Yap told, “They (military) can stay away from civilians as mandated in the IHL (international humanitarian law),” adding that “they can pursue their operations in the hinterlands without causing harm to the civilians.”

The local lawmaker reiterated that “military troops are prohibited to use any public structure such as village halls and schools for encampment and other military affairs.”  (Marilou Aguirre-Tuburan/

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