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    Residents again forced to flee their homes in village of Mahaba, Marihatag, Surigao del Sur, Philippines

    URGENT ACTION ALERT
    UA No: 2011-04-01
    UA Date :
    05 April 2011

    UA Case :
    Forcible evacuation and displacement due to shelling, aerial bombing and
    active military combat operations

    Victim/s :
    110 families, or more than 600 men, women and children, from the Sitios Loknodon, Boringon, Palonpon in Baranggay (village) Mahaba, Marihatag, Surigao del Sur.

    Place of Incident :
    Baranggay Mahaba, Marihatag, Surigao del Sur

    Date of Incident :
    31 March 2011 to present

    Alleged Perpetrator(s) :
    Elements of the 23rd and 29th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) based in the military detachment in Bgy. Buhisan, San Agustin, Surigao del Sur

    Account of the Incident:

    Karapatan-Caraga Chapter reported that after an alleged March 30, 2011 encounter between the military and members of the New People’s Army in the hinterlands of Marihatag, Surigao del Sur, elements of the 23rd and 29thIBPA launched an even more intensive combat operations which involved air reconnaisance and infantry ground troop operations in and around the encounter site. Army troops have patrolled the communities in these areas while two helicopters reconnoitered and intermittently dropped bombs in the
    nearby forested areas. These caused fear among the residents and limited the movement of the farmers in the following hours.

    On March 31, from around 7AM to 2PM, villagers heard canon blasts, which they believed came from the military detachment in Brgy. Buhisan, San Agustin; these were launched and exploded in areas around Brgy. Mahaba.

    These bombings caused fear and panic among the residents, who were forced to evacuate in the nearby Baranggays of San Isidro, Bayan, Mabog and Sto. Niño, which were some three kilometers from their homes. Around 110 families residing from Sitios Loknodon, Boringon and Palonpon in Brgy. Mahaba ran for safety, leaving behind all their properties – food, clothes, farm produce and farming tools.

    A team of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) attempted to enter Brgy. Mahaba on March 31 to look into the situation, but was barred from entry by the operating soldiers in the area.

    The residents are took shelter in other people’s homes near the evacuation center. On April 3, the Marihatag Municipal Government was able to provide food assistance for the evacuees which was enough for only one day. As of April 5, due to scarcity of food in the evacuation center, many of the evacuees have gone back to their homes despite the ongoing military operations in the surrounding areas of Brgy. Mahaba. The residents also fear the armed military personnel patrolling through their croplands.

    In March to September 2010, Brgy. Mahaba was also occupied by members of the 36th IBPA. The military used community facilities such as the Mahaba Multi-purpose Hall, Baranggay Hall, Health Center, Day Care Center and even the local chapter as temporary encampment. The presence and activities of the military forced the residents to evacuate. Karapatan was able to document cases of human rights violations of the military during this occupation, including the torture and illegal arrest of 6 farmers and a 14-year old boy. During the course of the evacuation of the residents, two farmers became victims of enforced disappearance and are still missing to
    this day.

    * *

    Recommended Action:

    * *

    Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:

    1. The immediate cessation of military combat operations in Brgy. Mahaba, Marihatag, Surigao del Sur, and the immediate pull-out of the military troops in the area.
    2. The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that will look into the forcible evacuation of the residents of Brgy. Maahaba, Marihatag, Surigao del Sur.
    3. The pertinent government agencies to provide logistic, medical and psychosocial aid to the evacuees, especially the children. The residents must also be allowed to return to their communities and live normal lives.
    4. The Philippine Government to withdraw its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians
    5. The Philippine Government to be reminded that it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all the major Human Rights instruments, thus it is bound to observe all of these instruments’ provisions.

    You may send your communications to:

    H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
    President of the Republic
    Malacañang Palace,
    JP Laurel St., San Miguel
    Manila Philippines
    Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
    Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
    E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.gov.ph

    Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles
    Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
    Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
    7th Floor Agustin Building I
    Emerald Avenue
    Pasig City 1605
    Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
    Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216
    osec@opapp.gov.ph

    Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
    Secretary, Department of National Defense
    Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
    E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
    Voice:+63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488
    Fax:+63(2) 911 6213
    Email: osnd@philonline.com

    Atty. Leila M. De Lima
    Secretary, Department of Justice
    Padre Faura St., Manila
    Direct Line 521-8344; 5213721
    Trunkline 523-84-81 loc.214
    Fax: (+632) 521-1614
    Email: soj@doj.gov.ph

    Hon. Loretta Ann P. Rosales
    Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
    SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
    Commonwealth Avenue
    Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
    Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188
    Fax: (+632) 929 0102
    Email: <coco.chrp@gmail.com>chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com,
    lorettann@gmail.com

    Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government
    officials, to our address below.

    URGENT ACTION Prepared by:
    KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
    National Office
    2/F Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin cor Matatag Sts.,
    Brgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City 1100 PHILIPPINES
    Voice/Fax: (+632) 435 4146
    Email: urgentaction@karapatan.org
    Website: www.karapatan.org

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