Peasant groups protest vs. military encampment in Davao, Comval schools

June 14, 2011

Davao City — Farmers and lumads condemned the military encampment in civilian communities in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley Province which has terrorized schoolchildren and disrupted the farming of peasant folks.

“The warring posture of the military creates fear tension, sowing fear in our community and disrupting our normal way of life, especially the life of children who may get used to this abnormal scenario of seeing military men with high-powered rifles in and out of their schools,” said Ellie Corro, vice chairperson of the Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Hebron (NAGMASAHE – KMP ), a local farmers’ organization in Cateel, Davao Oriental.

For instance, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – SMR said that the elementary school of Sitio Hulid, Brgy. Aragon in Cateel, Davao Oriental is reportedly being used by the military as headquarters, while the gymnasium in Brgy. Taytayan in the same province is being used as a tactical command post of the 67th IB, 25th IB and Scout Rangers.

Other schools used as military camps include the primary schools in Sitio Mambusao, Brgy. Ngan, Compostela and primary schools in Brgys. San Jose, Nabunga and Caatihan.

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Joseph, not his real name, is a highschool student of the Aliwagwag National High School. He said the 25th IB has used his school several times for long periods of time especially when there are military operations.

“We used to look forward to going to school before, but now, we fear seeing military soldiers who surround our schools, and gyms.Sometimes they send us to buy them something,” said Joseph in the vernacular.

“Militarization has immensely affected our livelihood. Many farmers would avoid going to their farms too early or going home too late because the military might accuse them of being members of the NPA or doing errands for them like some farmers who are arrested and tortured for being accused wrongly by the military,” said Corro.

Corro is referring to 5 farmers from Brgy. San Jose and Brgy. Magsaysay, Cateel town who were either illegally detained by the military or used as a guide in their military operations just last week.

KMP said that the intensified massing-up, and hamletting of schools, gyms, barangay halls, and civilian homes in their areas by the military necessitates immediate action in order to avoid more human rights violations from being committed against civilians.

KMP urged teachers and students to file raps against soldiers who will stage military actions or activities in their schools.

“The military is in violation of the International Humanitarian Law which categorically prohibits the use of a public place for military places and the endangerment civilians. We cannot let our children under a culture of militarism and violence. Even women’s rights are abused because militarization also proliferates the prostitution of local women,” said Tony Salubre, secretary general of the Farmers Association of Davao City (FADC).

In support of the farmers’ clamor for the pullout of the military units from Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental, peace and rights groups staged a protest rally today along San Pedro St. fronting Unitop. #

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