Mt. Province folk demands pull out of soldiers

Northern Dispatch

NATONIN, Mountain Province – Residents here demanded the pull out of soldiers stationed in their community, citing threats to their life and security.

In their petition, residents called on the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) to notify the Philippine Army’s 54th Infantry Battalion (IB) to pull out from their community. Residents said the massive military operation is violating their rights stated in the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA). They said the people of Natonin and Ifugao did not allow the entry of the military troops within their ancestral land.

The petition was submitted to the NCIP after a humanitarian mission spearheaded by the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA), June 18.

Residents also called on the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army to investigate the cases of thief and destruction of property implicating elements of the 54th IB. They said proper indemnification must be given to the victims.

A resident of Bunag,who requested anonymity for security reasons, said that soldiers went inside their abandoned house through the window. When he checked the house, his bolo, kitchen utensils and working tools were all missing; his chest was dirty and full of mud. A neighbor informed him about the incident.

Meanwhile, Reyna Chono, a resident of Butac, Aguinaldo said she and her family were accused by soldiers as supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA) because of the medicines she brought home for her son and her husband who were sick at that time.

Chono said she bought paracetamol and ibuprofen but soldiers claimed she also purchased dextrose. The soldiers said that one NPA guerrilla was wounded after an encounter between the two groups on June 2 at Pakkil, boundary of Ifugao and Natonin.

Chono said that they have not attended to their field even it is already time for planting out of fear of the soldiers. Northern Dispatch

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