March 1, 2010
DIGOS CITY — The seven lumad and farmer leaders from ANAKPAWIS and KATRIBU partylist tagged as the “Sta.Cruz 7” filed their counter affidavits today before the Clerk of Court at the Almendras Hall of Justice, Digos, Davao Del Sur Hall of Justice to assert their innocence and that they were maliciously and falsely charged.
Ten days after the subpoena for a case of frustrated murder by the 39th and 72nd IB have been issued, the leaders charged back at the military refuting the accusations that they have nothing to do with the January 21 ambush by the New People’s Army in Coronon, Sta. Cruz.
“If the military thinks we will just let this go without a good fight, then they are mistaken. We will tackle them head on because the truth is on our side,” said Lino Lumana, one of the accused, and is one of the leaders of the United Farmers’ Association of Sta. Cruz (UFASAC)
Upon their filing of affidavits Monday, the victims were accompanied by their lawyers from the Union of Peoples Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM), Anakpawis and Katribu party list and community residents belonging to the UFASAC- Anakpawis.
The group demanded for the dismissal of the case saying that the 39th IB’s case against them is baseless. Lumana was in Manila during the date of the incident attending the national caravan for land and justice organized by Anakpawis in time for the commemoration of the Mendiola Massacre.
Another accused is Carding Elacion, a 74 – year – old Bisaya farmer who chairs the local farmer’s organization Nagkahiusang Maguuma sa Sibulan (NAMAS, a local chapter of UFASAC).
Elacion said he was in his farm in Landig II when the alleged incident happened. Coronon, the place of the alleged ambush is 13 kilometers away from his home.
“Nitigulang na lang ko sa pakigbisog alang yuta sa mag-uuma, apan karon pa ko nakasinati og ingon ani ka-mangtas nga porma sa pag-atake sa gubyerno ilalom sa pagdumala ni Mrs.Arroyo. Ika-pila mi nakasinati og militarisasyon g among komunidad, ikapila mi gi-harass, gi-akusahan nga NPA apan ang aktwal nga pag-himohimo og kaso usa ka-talawan ug desperado nga lakang nga naga-apekto sa amoa uban sa among pamilya,” said Elacion.
(I have spent so much on my part of my life in this struggle, but this is the first time that I experienced such vicious form of attack from the government of Mrs. Arroyo. Many times have we experienced militarization, harassment and abuses, accused as NPA members but the actual fabrication of cases against us is a cowardly and desperate move that affects not only us, but our families.”)
Other victims such as Benjie Paldas who is also an officer of the NAMAS and is a community health worker in Sibulan said he was on a christening of a close friend’s daughter on the day of the said ambush.
Gina Bernardo, former chairperson of the Patulangon Farmers Association (PATUFA), is a member of the PATUFA health committee said she was at that time at her employer’s residence in Bajada, Davao City and is with several companions to testify for her statement.
The farmer leaders decried for the clear persecution of their political and civil rights — one of the legal attacks in the framework of the military’s counter-insurgency plan Oplan Bantay Laya 2.
“Because of the lies concocted by the 39th IB – 10th IB, we have been displaced from our homes and work places, affecting our daily lives and those of our families’. We are alarmed mostly for the safety of our loved ones,” said Lumana.
Together with Katribu party list, Anakpawis will exhaust all measures to address their grievances and have the names of their leaders cleared.
LINO LUMANA, Anakpawis leader
FRANCHIE BUHAYAN, Anakpawis Davao City Spokesperson