“It’s clear the military is determined to imprison me.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – A leader of a regional organization of Lumads in Northern Mindanao is charged with murder.
Jomorito Goaynon, chairperson of Kalumbay, told Bulatlat.com in an interview that he was shocked to receive a text message from a colleague saying he is facing yet another “trumped-up” criminal charge. Goaynon was in Manila to attend the Peace Summit organized by the Citizens Alliance for Just Peace, April 18.
Goaynon and his three siblings were being implicated in the killing of Dorlito Goaynon dela Mance, a leader of a paramilitary group, on March 28 in Malaybalay, Bukidnon. Goaynon denied any involvement, saying he was in a meeting in Cagayan de Oro at the time of the incident. Goaynon added that the New People’s Army (NPA) publicly owned up the killing.
This is the second time that Goaynon was slapped with a criminal offense since he figured in the anti-militarization campaign in Mindanao, according to Cristina Palabay, secretary general of human rights alliance Karapatan.
Goaynon said he had heated debates with the military over the recent evacuation of the more than 1,000 residents from 14 communities to Balit, Agusan del Sur.
“It’s clear the military is determined to imprison me,” Goaynon said.
Earlier in February, Goaynon and seven other leaders of people’s organizations and human rights workers were accused of illegal detention. A petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus and Writ of Amparo was filed by the 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army (IDPA) in the name of Teddy Ostos. Teddy alleged that Goaynon and the others detained his son, Rene and family who were among those who stayed at the evacuation center in Balit village.
The Court of Appeals, however, in a resolution dated March 5, 2015, pointed out defects in the petition and ordered the petitioner to correct them within five days.
When sought out by some of the respondents, Teddy said he was tortured by soldiers of the 26th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) to force him to execute the complaint affidavit. Later, Teddy executed an affidavit recanting his testimony against the respondents.
Palabay said what happened to Goaynon is “one of the numerous violations committed against civilians in many remote communities.”
All over Mindanao, at least 508 indigenous peoples’ leaders and activists have been charged with common crimes. Human rights groups decried this as “criminalization of political dissent.”