By JUDE BAGGO
BAGUIO CITY — The Mabaca tribe in Balbalan town, Kalinga rejected the planned encampment of soldiers belonging to the 77th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army in sitio Tanap, Mabaca village.
According to the initial fact sheet prepared by the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA)-Kalinga, a platoon-size unit of the 77th IBPA arrived in sitio Tanap, Mabaca sometime in the second week of May. The soldiers had with them four sacks of rice, construction nails, gasoline, and sheets of galvanized iron and started building a military detachment in the area.
The local folk questioned the construction of the military structure and asserted that the soldiers should consult the people of their plans before building anything. The army unit then called for a community meeting on May 18. The CPA said that the community folk reiterated their opposition to the construction of the military detachment in the said meeting. Instead of heeding the people’s decision, however, the army scheduled another round of consultation.
“According to the Mabaca Farmers Alluyon (MFA), their opposition to the proposed encampment of army soldiers in their village stems from their long and harrowing experiences of human rights violations committed against them by the military since 1993. Their long list of violations committed against them by government troops include threat and harassment, physical abuse, interrogation, use of women in the context of armed conflict such as impregnating women and abandoning them after, and conducting fake surveys,” the CPA said.
The CPA disclosed that the village folk also fear that government soldiers will again bring with them anti-social activities that include drinking sprees, gambling, use of illegal drugs, circulation of pornographic materials and theft and again haunt their village like before.
The CPA said the local folk also fear that the military presence will again bring economic dislocation because they will not be free to tend to their farms.
The CPA called on the government troops to respect the decision of the people and leave the area. They also called on the municipal government of Balbalan to support the decision of the village folk.
“We should be reminded that because of the militarization of our communities, innocent lives have been lost and civilians suffered human rights violations. Until today, no justice has been served to the victims of extrajudicial killings in Kalinga,” the CPA said. (www.nordis.net)