Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 3, Number 26 August 3 - 9, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S WATCH
All National Minority Communities!’
July 21, an entire Mangyan family in Sitio Talayog, Barangay San Nicolas,
Magsaysay, Mindoro Occidental was massacred allegedly by members of the 204th
Brigade of the Philippine Army. On June 17, a six-by-six truck loaded with
soldiers arrived in Barangay San Rafael, San Marcelino, Zambales and without a
word strafed several houses, all owned by Aeta families. These were only the
latest incidents of human rights violations that victimize members of indigenous
groups, driving human rights groups and advocates of tribal minorities to demand
the pullout of soldiers from IP communities.
AUBREY SC MAKILAN
a statement, Karapatan-Southern Tagalog (ST) said the 204th Brigade
commanding officer Col. Fernando Mesa admitted that the incident was part of the
military operation against suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in
of Sitio Talayog, including its barangay captain, however asserted there were no
NPA rebels in their area and that “one could easily see if there were armed
men inside the (Blancos’) house, and there was none.”
acting spokesperson Irein Cuasay said the incident “was a violation of the
Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International
Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL)” because the “Blancos are civilians but they
(military) fired indiscriminately.”
Muna Partylist Rep. Liza Maza demanded that Lt. Gen. Gregorio Camiling explain
the incident aside from conducting a probe. She also demanded the immediate
pullout of the 204th Brigade in Mindoro and the relief of Escandor and Sgt.
Danilo Gler who led the military operation that led to the massacre.
also suggested that the Commission on Human Rights conduct its own
investigation, since an AFP-led probe would most likely vindicate its own men.
“AFP’s initial report for example, discusses the supposed firefight that ensued between the AFP and NPA, not mentioning at all the indiscriminate shooting that killed four hapless civilians, including two children,” Maza said.
likewise called on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to “make all necessary
efforts for the resumption of peace negotiations with the National Democratic
Front” to ensure “the protection of the civilian population in the context
of an occurring civil war.”
condemnable incident is not the first of the many abuses that has been reported
against elements of the 204th Brigade operating in Mindoro. An order to
investigate is a very weak and perfunctory response that will barely open the
door to justice for the victims of human rights violations in Mindoro," she
Donna Quidayan, acting spokesperson of Tanggol Karapatan ¾
a human rights group that shelters internal refugees ¾
worries that the unstoppable killings “will force more Mangyans to leave their
ancestral lands and relocate.”
24 families we have now as internal refugees from Mindoro Oriental will surely
increase as long as Macapagal-Arroyo’s all-out war policy continues and the
peace talks is stalled,” said Quidayan.
No man’s land
peaceful Aeta community in Sitio Itanglew, Barangay San Rafael, San Marcelino,
Zambales was disturbed by the very same people who should promote peace and
results of a fact-finding mission conducted by Karapatan-Central Luzon (CL) and
Central Luzon Aeta Association (CLAA) point to government soldiers as the
mission reported that around 100 soldiers on board a six-by-six truck and an APC
155 armored tank arrived in the area at 3 p.m. of June 17 and reportedly strafed
the Day Care Center, the Aetas’ huts and papaya trees.
chieftain Rico Naval was quoted in the same report that the strafing ceased only
after two hours. The soldiers did not explain the reasons for the strafing. They
were also not wearing nametags, one of the soldiers was even seen wearing a
slipper on one foot and a combat shoe on the other.
50 soldiers also stayed behind after the incident. At 7 a.m. the following day,
another batch of soldiers from the nearby town Rabanis came. They then ransacked
the Aetas’ houses and allegedly looted the villagers of their livestock,
clothes, household items and other belongings.
were interrogated on their alleged involvement with the NPA. Out of fear, some
reportedly admitted seeing NPA guerillas in the area even though they do not see
the village chief was not spared. When Noval told the soldiers that the gunfire
they heard the other day was from their (military) comrades, one soldier
insisted that there were NPA rebels from their area.
chieftain informed Mayor Lydia Rodriguez about the military operation but the
latter justified the soldiers’ actions by saying that it was natural for
soldiers to be hot-tempered during operations.
the mayor and the chieftain agreed to evacuate the 37 families, the soldiers
continued to harass the residents.
the residents could leave at 5 p.m., the soldiers reportedly insulted the
tribesmen when the former told that their church could be where they confess
their alleged countless killings.
Aetas left at around 5 p.m. and sought refuge at the elementary school in the
nearby Sitio Lawin.
days later, in a meeting with the mayor, the Aetas found that they were being
forcibly recruited into the paramilitary Citizens Armed Force Geographical Unit
(Cafgu) and would undergo paramilitary training. She further said that the
military would set up a detachment in their sitio.
Ablong, also an Aeta chieftain and representative of Aeta Development
Association (ADA), protested that such an action would entail something that is
against their culture¾holding
guns. Instead of respecting the tribe’s culture, the mayor threatened them
that they would be considered NPAs and arrested if they refused.
on July 11, 49 victims filed a formal complaint demanding their return to the
community and punishment of the soldiers involved in the several counts of human
rights violations ¾
strafing, grave threats, illegal search, destruction of properties, looting, and
the forcible evacuation of 37 Aeta families (160 individuals) since June 18.
complainants also condemned the establishment of a military detachment in their
community, forced Cafgu recruitment, and intimidation by the soldiers.
Alex Bagat, CLAA and Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KAMP)
member, said in a statement that both the government’s development projects
and the counter insurgency program under the anti-terrorism and have led to the
“massive evacuation of the minorities from their ancestral lands, the
violation of their rights, the bastardization of their political rights and
their tribal leader’s authority and the prohibition of exercising their
traditional and cultural economic practices.”
worried that martial law-like policies ¾
7 p.m. curfew; ban on wearing of black t-shirts and use of flashlights; constant
interrogation; and illegal home searches ¾
will be implemented in their area like what happened to the other 27 Aeta
communities militarized in Central Luzon due to Balikatan exercises.
Bagat called on the president and the Department of National Defense (DND) “to stop the militarization in Aeta and all national minority communities” while urging his fellow national minorities to assert their rights and fight any form of state militarization and development aggression. Bulatlat.com