MEDIA RELEASE | May 12, 2012 – Initial reports from Karapatan-Southern Mindanao region said that more than 80 families from Sitio 33, Bgy. New Visayas in Trento, Agusan del Sur forcibly evacuated on May 7 due to bombings and intense military operations by soldiers from the 25th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.
The evacuees are now temporarily housed in New Visayas barangay hall and in the Pulang Lupa multi-purpose center, while some 20 families were prevented by the military from leaving the community.
Karapatan spokesperson Cristina Palabay commented that, “bombings of communities by the military and the consequent displacement of people from their communities have become frequent and widespread since the start of the 2012, the second year of the implementation of Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan. Thousands, including women and children who are most vulnerable under the situation, have now become victims of forced evacuation.”
Karapatan-Southern Mindanao’s account revealed that elements of the 25th IB bombed the community twice, dropping a total of seven bombs. The type of bombs has yet to be identified. Aside from the bombing, the soldiers also ransacked two sari-sari stores and stayed in civilian houses.
Karapatan-Southern Mindanao said that on May 6, soldiers arrived in Sitio Limot, Bgy. Cogonon aboard two military trucks. Shortly after, on May 7, around 7a.m., an encounter ensued between forces of the 25th IB and members of the New People’s Army (NPA) which, reportedly resulted to a heavy casualty among the soldiers.
What followed, according to Palabay was, “the usual act of the military to retaliate by way of turning their guns against the people aside from the fact that there is an ongoing mining exploration in the area conducted by the Osmetal Mining Corporation. Large-scale destructive mining and militarization have obviously become inseparable twin evils.”
Barely a month ago, representatives of indigenous people and peasants from the Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte and Bukidnon were in Manila to call the attention of various government agencies to the multiple human rights violations committed against them because of the ongoing military operations and bombings in their communities. They also sought support from non-government organizations, Church groups and diplomatic missions in the Philippines on the plight of the displaced people in the evacuation centers and expressed their desire to go back to their homes. All these communities have on-going, or are targets for, large-scale mining operations.
“The marginalized people in the countryside have become so dispensable with the government’s policy of favouring large-scale mining corporations and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, as in the past, has become its tool to drive away people in favor of big business,” said Palabay. ###
Reference: Cristina Palabay, Spokesperson, 09175003879
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