Press Release |May 11, 2012, Davao City — KARAPATAN-Southern Mindanao slams massive military operations with indiscriminate aerial bombardments jointly launched by the 10th and 4th Infantry Division of Eastern Mindanao Command (EASTMINCOM) in Sitio Upper New Visayas, Brgy. New Visayas, Municipality of Trento, Agusan del Sur Province which resulted to forcible displacement, hamletting, and other human rights violations against the farmers and civilian residents.
“Victims narrate the horror as they flee from their homes amidst aerial bombings and ground operations conducted by the 25th and 75th Infantry Battalions. This grand military action reveals the brutal costs of militarism hiding beneath the peace and development façade of Oplan Bayanihan,” ” said Rev. Jurie Jaime, spokesperson of KARAPATAN Southern Mindanao.
He added, “Up to now, communities in the boundary of the mining – targeted towns of Monkayo and Trento are blanketed with fear as the AFP and mining corporations are hell bent on clearing the area for Oz Metal Corporation and Monkayo Consolidated Mining Corporation (MCMC) partly-owned by Mayor Junjun Brillantes (Monkayo, ComVal Province) which is financed by Yinyi (Taiwanese mineral exploration).
KARAPATAN-SMR sent a Quick reaction Team (QRT) on May 8 to investigate the incident and facilitate the concerns of the internally displaced persons (IDPs). The rights group’s initial report confirmed that there are 83 families, amounting to 397 individuals including children from Sitio Upper New Visayas and Sitio Maitom of Brgy. New Visayas forcibly fled their homes after 7 occasions of indiscriminate aerial bombings and heavy ground operations led by the military on the morning of May 7.
“Even in the evacuation center, military men in civilian clothes led by Col. Benavides of the 75th IB, accompanying the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the distribution of relief goods, posed threats on the evacuees,” said Jaime.
KARAPATAN added that a civilian 16-year-old-boy “Jessie” (name withheld), was also wounded on his left thigh during the military operations. 4th Infantry Division alongside with Maj. Gen. Jorge Segovia’s EASTMINCOM of the Armed Forces of the Philippines once again paraded the wounded child and branded him as New People’s Army (NPA) Child Warrior. Jessie was instructed by his father on the morning of May 7 in Sitio Upper New Visayas to gather some woods for their makeshift hut which they will use in time for the “Araw ng Trento”. Moments later, the military conducted combat heavy operations, indiscriminately fired and bombed the forested portion of the community.
“The entire community including our family left our place because of fear. All I thought that my son Jessie managed to evacuate himself and that we would reunite at the evacuation site, but he was declared missing all day long. Until the evening of May 8, I was so surprised when my son arrived at the evacuation site but his left thigh was already wounded. But before I could reach him so that we can send him to the nearest hospital, the military men seized him and accused my son as NPA member. They arrested my son and brought him to the headquarters of 4th ID in Cagayan de Oro City. What we demand right now is for the military to release my son and we will have him treated to a civilian hospital,” lamented Melchor Malimbasao, 54, father of Jessie.
One pregnant woman and another who just gave birth complained of heavy bleeding after escaping from the military operations in Upper New Visayas. Evacuees also complained that 25th IB elements ransacked their stores and slaughtered their livestock.
“We are greatly alarmed by the plight of those who are within the hamletted area of Upper New Visayas. The military should vacate the civilian communities to allow the residents, especially the women and children, to recover from the trauma. The 10th ID and 4th ID are culpable for violating international humanitarian laws for using civilian communities as launching pads of their war and endangering civilian lives,” said Jaime.
Jaime added, “With only barely a month and with the questionable promotion of Eastern Mindanao Command chief, Maj. Gen. Jorge Segovia, has clearly illustrated the blatant costs of Oplan Bayanihan. Which under his leadership translates to classic militarism of the rural communities marked with full – scale war operations, completely disregarding civilian lives and human rights laws for corporate benefit.”
Rev. Jurie Jaime, Spokesperson, 09215311893
Hanimay Suazo, Secretary-General, 09199675059
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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.