Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 3, Number 23 July 13 - 19, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
Soldiers Hack 4; Farmer-Leader May Lose Limb
recent hacking of four peasant leaders in Baggao town, Cagayan Valley allegedly
by Army soldiers has provoked outrage among residents and farmers families
alike. The whole town is under martial law, they said, as evidenced by the
incident and the presence of hundreds of Army soldiers.
Northern Dispatch Weekly (NORDIS)
CITY, Cagayan - Various organizations in Cagayan Valley roundly condemned the
bloody bolo-hacking of four peasant leaders in Baggao municipality, this
province, July 1, allegedly by members of the Philippine Army’s Special
Operations Team (SOT) based in the said town.
of the arms of Joey Javier, chair of CAGUIMUNGAN, province-wide peasant
organization, was nearly severed by the bolo hacking. He was reportedly in
critical condition due to arm and leg wounds, and may have his arm amputated.
to a report by human rights alliance, KARAPATAN-Cagayan Valley, Javier and his
companions Isabelo Adviento, Ronald Reyes and Benito Abarientos were riding on a
kuliglig (mini-tractor that doubles as passenger vehicle) when three
SOTmembers of the 5th Infantry Division pounced on them with bolos right in
front of the SOT tactical command post in Brgy. Dibulo, Baggao.
four peasant leaders had come from centro Baggao, where CAGUIMUNGAN was busy
preparing for the July 4 ground-breaking ceremonies of Radyo Cagayano. The
Baggao-based community radio station, slated to start regular daily broadcasts
on August 6, is a project of CAGUIMUNGAN, with funds provided through Rep. Satur
Ocampo (Bayan Muna).
groups were scheduled to hold a press conference in Baggao Sunday, July 6.
attack was planned’
one of the victims, said they noticed two Army soldiers apparently waiting as
they crossed the bridge near the command post.
namin sa command post, may tatlong sundalong parang naglolokohan at may mga
dalang itak. Tumakbo sa may harapan ang isa at mistulang naghahabulan sila. Nang
kami ay kanilang mapagitnaan, hinarang nila ang aming sasakyang kuliglig at kami
ay kanilang pinagtataga.” (As we drove in front of the command post, three
soldiers wielding bolos acted like they were gamboling. When we reached their
midst, they stopped our kuliglig and started hacking us.)
was here that Javier was hit. “Kung hindi kami nakatakbo, malamang may mga
patay na sa amin” (Were we not able to run, probably some of us would be
dead now), Adviento said.
says that the bloody hacking was “planned by the military.” After Javier
collapsed on the ground, he said, a certain Sergeant Pacunla approached the
wounded peasant leader and said, “Isardeng mo ngamin ita aramid mon kabayan.
Kurang pay ketdi dayta.” (You’d better stop your activities, buddy.
That’s just for starters.)
pa niya sa driver ng kuliglig kung kaming apat ay napuruhan lahat” (He
even asked the kuliglig driver if all four of us got mortal hits),
5th ID SOT based in Baggao, commanded by Capt. George Domingo, has not appeared
before the police and media as of presstime. A KARAPATAN-CV report said the
victims are preparing charges against the suspected perpetrators.
of many HR violations
a statement, the regional peasant alliance Danggayan dagiti Mannalon ti Cagayan
Valley (Danggayan CV) strongly condemned the July 1 SOT 5th ID
bolo hacking as an “attempted massacre” against the CAGUIMUNGAN leaders.
statement said Danggayan did not believe that the suspects who hacked Javier
were “in hiding and at large.” It’s more probable that like earlier cases
of soldiers violating human rights, the culprits will “just be transferred and
even promoted,” the statement said.
also chided Captain Domingo, the SOT commander, for saying that it was just a
case of “personal grudge.” The regional peasant alliance insisted that such
violence was part of the general orientation given to AFP soldiers, and that the
“command responsibility for the human rights violation goes all the way up to
Capt. Domingo and [5th ID commanding officer] General Bagasin.”
to the KARAPATAN CV report, the 5th ID is “on record as the leading
violator of basic human rights of the peasant masses in the entire Cagayan
Valley.” The human rights group said the Army division is lumping together all
progressive peasant organizations, leaders and individuals as “CPP-NPA
members,” who deserved to be exterminated.
report noted that at present, the 5th ID has five infantry battalions (IB’s)
that have “illegally set up military camps” in 13 barangays, namely:
45th IB 6 barangays in San Mariano and Quirino, Isabela;
77th IB 1 barangay in Quirino, Isabela;
21st IB 4 barangays in Quirino, Isabela and Baggao, Cagayan; and
54th IB 2 barangays in Nagtipunan, Quirino.
are in addition to the 41st IB, which is deployed in and around Baggao, Cagayan.
AFP units have long been the target of local farmers’ groups who condemned
their alleged abuses and demanded their pullout.
to the Danggayan CV statement, “There is a long-standing petition of Baggao
citizens to dismantle the military camps within barrio centers such as in Brgy.
Caruppian, but the Commission on Human Rights and the mayor of Baggao could not
do anything.” This, despite CHR’s admission that military camps should not
be set up inside populated areas such as barrio centers.
Danggayan statement noted that Baggao folk have long been subjected to military
harrassment, surveillance, and actual physical abuses. It mentioned a certain
Dante Bitagun, allegedly abducted by 41st IB troopers.
to the Danggayan leaders, Baggao farmers are barely able to stay in their homes
whenever they are surrounded by drunk soldiers. Going on trips or even just
walking about has become difficult and dangerous, because of the harassment done
in checkpoints and because of the curfew hours imposed by the military. “Bombo
Radyo is correct. There is martial law in Baggao!” the statement added.
to Bishop Eulogio Pandongan, KARAPATAN CV chairperson, the worsening violence
and violation of basic people’s rights, especially those of the peasants,
“only reflect the absence of democracy, justice and freedom in our country.”
He said that the military violence and abject poverty are simply pushing the
Cagayan Valley peasants to fight back.
fact, the Danggayan statement said, the “worsening military violence may be in
reaction to the recent advances made by the peasant movement in Cagayan
made particular mention of its
“successful campaign to reduce interests on farm loans and increase corn
prices.” Recently too, various peasant organizations formed the Alyansa dagiti
Maag-agawan ti Daga (Alliance of Victims of Landgrabbing) to broaden resistance
against San Miguel Corp.’s cassava plantation project, the Cagayan Ecozone,
and other landgrabbing cases.
CV reiterated the following demands: (1) to immediately and impartially
investigate the Baggao hacking incident, and to punish the 5th ID SOT
culprits; (2) to dismantle AFP camps in Baggao, Cagayan, and in the towns of San
Mariano, Ilagan, and Delfin Albano in Isabela; and (3) to stop worsening
militarization and HR abuses in the region. Kim N. Quitasol for NORDIS
(Re-posted by Bulatlat.com)