‘WANTED’ posters are used by the police against common criminals. In Compostela Valley, however, the Philippine Army uses the same to track down a leader of a Lumad organization.
BY RONALYN OLEA
INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S WATCH
Volume VIII, Number 29, August 24-30, 2008
‘WANTED’ posters are used by the police against common criminals. In Compostela Valley, however, the Philippine Army uses the same to track down a leader of a Lumad organization who they accused of being a communist leader.
The PASAKA, Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao, denounced this, saying that the 28th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army is engaging in red-baiting tactics.
In a statement, PASAKA said that 28th IB, PA has been spreading this baseless accusation in “pulong-pulongs” or meetings attended by local officials and residents in Compostela since July this year. One of the residents recalled that in a “pulong-pulong” the army held last July 27, they showed a powerpoint presentation entitled “The Army.”
The resident related, “Natingala na lang man mi nga anaa man ang dagway ni Lala, ang nailhan namong lider sa organisasyon sa mga lumad sa rehiyon nga PASAKA sa power-point ug matud pa ni Lt. Col. Buding nga mao kuno to ang dagway sa usa ka wanted nga rebeldeng NPA nga ginganlag Nelson Villanueva alyas Kumander Lala nga naga-operate sa Compostela Valley ug si si bisan kinsa kuno nga makakita sa maong dagwaya isumbong dayon sa mga kasundalohan nga anaa sa lugar.” (We were surprised to see the picture of one of the leaders of our organization PASAKA, in a powerpoint presented by the military. Lt. Co. Buding said that the person in the picture is Nelson Villanueva alias Commander Lala, an NPA [New People’s Army] operating in Compostela Valley. He said that anyone who sees him should immediately inform any military personnel in the area.)
The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
The soldiers reportedly told those attending the “pulong-pulong” that based on intelligence reports, Commander Lala was last spotted in Davao City and that he is on a sick leave. They added that a team has been monitoring Commander Lala in the city.
The photo identifying Villanueva or Commander Lala was that of Kerlan “Lala” Fanagel, PASAKA secretary general.
On August 11, Tony Salubre, spokesperson of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Peasant Movement of the Philippines) went to Compostela, Compostela Valley for a speaking engagement. Upon arriving at the Compostela terminal, he noticed several ‘Wanted’ posters in the vicinity of the terminal. He saw a list with pictures of alleged leaders of the communist movement who are supposedly operating in the region. He was surprised to see the photo of Fanagel but the latter’s name in the said poster was Minandro Villanueva alias Nelso/ Bos who was identified as the Secretary-General of the Northern Mindanao Regional Committee covering Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, parts of Agusan del Sur, Davao del Sur and Cotabato.
The text in the poster was in the vernacular, Visayan language. When translated, it reads, “Wanted Rebel Communist …These people are the brains in making the Filipino people fight. Lazy versus hardworking, poor versus rich, students versus the school owner, workers versus the company owner… killing the people who won’t give money every month in the area where the NPA are operating. Whoever helps in arresting these people “DEAD or ALIVE,” will receive a reward-money from the Government. For more information, call or approach the officials of the Barangay, Municipality, Provincial or the Military Soldiers or cell NR: 0921.729.8341”
On August 19, PASAKA filed complaints against Lt. Col. Ferdinand Buding, commanding officer of the 28th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
Fanagel said, “It is clear that this is being deliberately done …to discredit me as an officer of PASAKA.”
He said that this red baiting tactic provides soldiers with a license to kill him anytime.”If something bad happens to me, you already know who’s to blame,” Fanagel said.
Prof. Myfel Paluga, chairperson of the Solidarity Action Group for Indigenous People (SAGIP), said, “He is being persecuted for having a firm commitment to defend indigenous peoples rights.”
Fanagel called on the CHR to immediately act on the complaint.
Kelly Delgado, secretary General of Karapatan-Southern Mindanao, said “This is another conscious effort by elements of the State to demonize legitimate organizations that criticize and oppose the bankrupt policies of the Arroyo administration, particularly in the context of the worsening human rights situation of the country specifically in the province of Compostela Valley.” (Bulatlat.com)