“Karapatan condemns the psy-ops (psychological operations) of the BS Aquino regime and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which has become desperate and abominable in an attempt to obfuscate and distort facts on the human rights violations against the Lumad and the Filipino people. The regime expects to turn public opinion in its favor and to justify further attacks against communities and schools in Mindanao,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.
In a statement, Col. Alexander Macario, commander of the 401st Infantry Brigade of the AFP, singled out award-winning journalist and blogger Inday Varona for re-posting on her Facebook account Karapatan’s urgent alert on the burning of a teachers’ cottage of the ALCADEV extension school in Sitio Km. 30, Brgy. Padiay, Sibagat, Agusan del Sur by soldiers believed to be members of the 23rd Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army.
The Eastern Mindanao Command immediately released a statement denying any involvement in the arson and destruction of school properties, saying there was no military deployment in the area. But the military unit has a detachment less than five kilometers from the ALCADEV school. Residents said the 23rd IBPA and the 1st Special Forces Battalion were conducting military operations, some three to five kilometers away from ALCADEV when the incident happened.
On Sunday, the statement of the 4th Infantry Division-Philippine Army (ID-PA) pointed its finger at the New People’s Army saying the act was meant to “destroy the soldier’s image and also to generate fund.” Col. Macario also directly implicated Varona as an active collaborator of the NPA.
“Only the fascist minds of the AFP can make up such ludicrous and incongruent stories. Only the fascist minds of the AFP can hurl wild, but dangerous accusations on the basis of Facebook reposts. When caught red-handed on rights violations, the AFP always resorts to desperate but measured tactics to harass and intimidate even journalists who report on human rights violations against the Lumad and the rest of the population,” Palabay said. Karapatan reported the incident based on initial testimonies of the residents.
Aside from the burning of the cottage, suspected members of the 23rd IBPA also destroyed books, school supplies, instructional and learning materials, stocks of rice, power generator set, audio-video equipment, sewing machine, kitchen utensils and farm tools. The 5,000 banana and abaca seedlings in the school nursery, as well as hardwood and fruit trees were also destroyed. Since September, the 24 school children and 10 teachers of ALCADEV have been staying at the Tandag City Sports Complex, where nearly 2,000 residents from Lianga and San Miguel towns have evacuated after the massacre of ALCADEV executive director Emerito Samarca and Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo.
Earlier, AFP Civil Relations Officer, Brig. Gen. Joselito Kakilala said TV personality Maine Mendoza, popularly known as Yaya Dub, singer-composer Aiza Seguerra and other artists were “misled” into supporting the calls of the Lumad.
“It is the BS Aquino regime and AFP that has deliberately misled the public and the international community about the real human rights situation in Lumad communities and in Mindanao. They fear international scrutiny—of human rights activists and of UN independent experts. They fear the naked truth as recounted by numerous victims, their families, witnesses, and community members,” Palabay concluded.
Cristina “Tinay” Palabay
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Building
#1 Maaralin corner Matatag Streets
Central District, Diliman
Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.