By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – Members of progressive youth groups Anakbayan and Gabriela Youth were assaulted in Maguindanao by unidentified military elements on Friday, April 13, during their protest at Camp Siongco where the 6th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is based. The youth groups’ protest was part of the five–day Mindanao Lakbayan Laban sa Balikatan 2012.
Injured were Malaya Genotiva, Convenor of Kabataang Patriotiko and Vice-Chairperson of UP Mindanao CHSS-Student Council, and Wyrlo Enero of Anakbayan.
Soldiers reportedly punched Genotiva from behind. After punching Genotive, a soldier ran back toward the camp compound, while another wearing a Type-B uniform, punched Enero at his right cheek.
“Brutal and coward, that would best describe the members of the 6th ID for having hit us from behind. It is utterly shameful. Inflicting violence on their fellow Filipinos shows their bias toward their foreign masters. Their acts further prove the fascist nature of the Philippine military,” said Genotiva.
Kabataan Partylist Southern Mindanao condemned the violence of the military toward the protesters who are protesting against foreign intervention.
“This fascism shown by the military is appalling. It only shows that the AFP’s view on human rights has not changed from Arroyo to Aquino, in fact it has worsened. But despite this, the youth and the people would always be at the frontlines in fighting for national sovereignty,” said Kabataan Partylist Regional Spokesperson, Rendell Ryan Cagula.
The protest caravan bound for Zamboanga City is the patriotic group’s response to the latest round of US-RP Balikatan exercises and heightened US military intervention in the country.
In Manila, progressive groups also conducted a Lakbayan last Monday which started from the Quezon City Memorial Circle then proceeded to Zambales and Tarlac, sites of US former military bases and installations and now sites of their troops’ military exercises.
Before starting the caravan in Manila, youth activists belonging to the League of Filipino Students and Anakbayan held an early morning rally in front of the US embassy.
US military exercises linked to economic plunder
In Mindanao the Lakbayan culminated in a big mobilization against the Western Mindanao Command in Zamboanga and the office of the Canadian-owned mining transnational Toronto Ventures Inc. (TVI).
The ongoing conflict between small-scale miners and the TVI in the area has reportedly resulted in the shooting and killing of the village head of Depore in Bayog on April 16. Patriyotiko Mindanao deplored the killing.