PRESS STATEMENT – The atrocities perpetrated by the military in Arakan, North Cotabato have intensified following the death of Italian missionary, Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME).
We, from the Karapatan Southern Mindanao (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) condemn the spate of human rights violations perpetrated by the 57th and 38th Infantry Battalions and 10th Special Forces Airborne of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Arakan Valley, North Cotabato.
Violations such as extrajudicial killing, frustrated massacre, illegal arrests, indiscriminate firing and forcible evacuation perpetrated by the composite team of 57th and 38th Infantry Battalions and the 10th Special Forces of the AFP were documented by Karapatan in a fact-finding mission held last October 21.
Ramon Batoy, peasant-farmer killed by 57th Infantry Battalion
Last October 20, aroung 6:00 am, elements of the Army’s composite team forcibly entered the house of a peasant-farmer Ramon Batoy, 35, a resident of Sitio Upper Lumbo, Brgy. Kabalantian.
When Ramon Batoy resisted, the soldier hit him with a butt of a rifle. Trying to defend himself and his family, he struck the soldier with his bolo that killed the latter. Three soldiers nearby, one covered with a mask, riddled Batoy with bullets, strafed his house and seven other houses nearby. Batoy’s wife, Gina, 33, and 6 months pregnant escaped with her daughter and son. The military accused Batoy of being a member of the New People’s Army (NPA). The military now insists that Batoy was killed in a legitimate encounter.
Batoy was an active supporter of Bantay Katubigan and Bantay Kalikasan of Mt. Sinaka of the Municipal Agriculture Office of Arakan. He worked as a tenant-farmer for the Mayor of Antipas.
Army soldiers mauled residents, illegally detained civilians and strafed the community
Ramon’s brother, Roger Batoy, 44, suffered from minor wounds on his left foot caused by splinters when the military indiscriminately fired at the houses in the community. He was inside his house with his wife and stepmother. His wife, Janeth noticed bullets passed over her head during the firing.
Also on October 20, soldiers from the 57th IB mauled Noli Badol, 35, farmer and a leader of Sitio Upper Lumbo, Brgy. Kabalantian, Arakan. Badol’s legs and hands were tied. Soldiers also fired at his wife Evelyn, 32, and 8 months pregnant and their children when she attempted to go near Badol. The military took Badol and detained him at the detachment of the 57th Infantry Battalion for several hours.
Celso Batoy, elder brother of Ramon, 47, was also mauled and detained by the soldiers. Celso and Noli are both currently detained at the police station of Ammas Municipality in North Cotabato with trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Arakan Community: Traumatized, heavily-militarized
The attacks against the civilian community of Arakan have resulted to displacement and evacuation of 136 families. Some 43 families from Sitio Lumbo, evacuated to Binoongan Elementary School for fear of more attacks from the military.
Additional 93 families evacuated to the same school the following day, October 21.
Barely three days after the killing of Fr. Pops Tentorio, scores of families, community leaders and civilians are now being attacked by the military his parish.
What kind of “peace and development” is going on in the communities in Arakan? The military’s “peace and development” actually means the fake surrender of civilians as NPA, mauling, strafing, harassment, threat, intimidation and killing. We are now seeing the true face of Oplan Bayanihan, the current administration’s counter-insurgency program, where scores of human rights violations take place amid the presence of the so-called Peace and Development Teams (PDTs).
What happened to the case of Sunshine Jabinez, the 7-year-old girl killed by an element of the 71st Infantry Battalion in Pantukan, Compostela Valley? Has something been done to the killing of Santos Manrique who was killed because of his opposition to the entry of largescale mining companies in Pantukan? What happened to the father and son Rudy and Rudyric Dejos who were tortured and killed by the 39th Infantry Battalion in Sta.Cruz, Davao del Sur? How about the case of Rebelyn Pitao, a teacher and daughter of NPA Commander Leoncio “Ka Parago” Pitao? Was justice served to Celso Pojas, the farmer-leader in Davao City? Who killed the beloved priest of Arakan, Fr. Fausto Tentorio?
The military’s 10th Infantry Division, Eastern Mindanao Command and the Pres. Aquino, the commander-in-chief, have blood on their hands. This is their version of “peace and development”—to silence people’s dissent. Their peace is death to leaders of farmers, church people and civilians.
KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights calls on the Aquino government to prosecute the perpetrators of these atrocities. We call on the government to pull-out all military troops and the so-called peace and development teams in the countryside.
Peace never comes from silencing dissent. Peace comes with social justice.
Hustisya alang kang Fr. Fausto Tentorio!
Hustisya alang sa tanang biktima sa Oplan Bayanihan!
Undangon ang Pasismo sa Estado!
FOR REFERENCE: Hanimay Suazo, Secretary General, KARAPATAN-SMR, 0929-401-4945
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., 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.