International Christian Committee on Human Rights (ICCHR) of Rome, Italy express their indignation and protest against the continuous occupation at the Manobo villages in Surigao del Sur by the elements of 29th IB PA leading to the evacuation of the inhabitants of the affected areas.
At least 77 families have evacuated from the mountain community of Magkahunao and Upper Janipaan in Brgy. Buhisan, San Agustin, Surigao del Sur since June 26, 2011. Of this, 26 Manobo families evacuated to Brgy. Buhisan, San Agustin while 51 families sought safety at the San Agustin Municipal Gym. There are 141 families with 553 individuals in evacuation from Brgy. Mahaba staying at the Marihatag Municipal Gym bringing the number of Surigao del Sur evacuees to 218 families of about 800 individuals.
Residents of Brgy. Mahaba evacuated because of continuing military presence in their barangay exceeding the one month request granted to the 29th IB PA troops by the barangay council of Mahaba. Military troops from the 29th IB PA set up camp in the barangay hall, health center, day care center and Sangguniang Kabataan offices in Mahaba since May 6, 2011. Evacuation escalated when a 14 year old and three other residents were fired upon by military men in separate incidents last June. Florante Rivas, an abaca farmer and one of the three fired upon by the military remains missing to date.
The 29th IB PA, led by Lt. Warren Ching, refused to leave Mahaba. In a community assembly called by the 29th IB PA at the Marihatag Gym, last June 23, Major Judith Loayon and Capt. Ramiel Fugnit reiterated that the military will not leave Mahaba and will instead build a military detachment in the barangay despite residents’ protest.
On the same day, June 23, news reports in the national daily newspapers announced that Abacus Coal Exploration and Development Corporation (ACEDC) is starting the development and production phase of its Surigao del Sur coal mining sites. These are located at the Andap Valley Complex in the municipalities of Lianga, San Agustin, Marihatag and Tago.
Classes at the Mahaba Elementary School, San Roque Primary School, Magkahunao Community School and Luknodon Community School have been disrupted because of the evacuation.
The ICCHR Rome calls for immediate withdrawal of military troops and end militarization from the said mountain communities to enable the inhabitants to return to their villages and continue their peaceful existence without harassment and the accusations of being NPA members or supporters be withdrawn.
International Christian Committee on Human Rights (ICCHR)
2 July 2011
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