Karapatan seeks justice for Cagayan farmers

By ROMMEL BALAJADIA II
www.nordis.net

CAGAYAN VALLEY – A fact finding mission led by Karapatan Cagayan Valley is on its way to San Juan, Rizal, Cagayan Valley. Its mission is to gather facts regarding recent incidents linked to the militarization of the area by the 17th IBPA. In particular, they seek to put to light the arrest of twenty nine people from San Juan who were taken in by the military and accused of kidnapping and homicide.

In an interview on September 16, 2015, Mia Rasalan of Karapatan Cagayan Valley said, it has recently been a repeated practice of the military to file charges of kidnapping and homicide against members of people’s organizations because these are non-bailable cases.

According to Karapatan, San Juan, Rizal has a long history of militant struggle against local landlordism. They fought against land grabbing, demanded fair prices for their products and fought against usury. In the 1970’s, under martial law the regime militarized the area and declared war against the people who simply were demanding for equity and security of their community livelihood.

In 2007, Nelson Asusena of Sangguniang Kabataaan was killed and in 2014, Ronald Beran, a farmer, was also assassinated allegedly by the military according to Karapatan-CV.

Furthermore, according to Karapatan-CV, attacks against the people of San Juan continues and are allegedly still perpetrated by the military. Several witnesses have said that on July 20, 2015, soldiers from the 17th IBPA forcibly entered the homes of three farmers Marlon Baganay, Mendio Bisiotan, and Lando Duruin who are two Agays and one senior citizen, respectively. They were grabbed and disappeared for a few days. When they were surfaced in the Cagayan Provincial Jail, they were falsely charged with possession of illegal firearms and explosives. They were tied and forced to carry arms and walk in a field by the military. Also recently, twenty farmers were falsely accused of kidnapping and homicide by a Sgt. Arsenio Villar Capili, a member of the 17th IBPA. Among the twenty nine accused, eleven are from San Juan according to Karapatan.

Mia Rasalan of Karapatan-CV said that the fact finding mission aims to gather evidence and witnesses to these incidents and cases. They also intend to facilitate the filing of counter suits by three of the accused farmers. They will also render psychological processing sessions for the residents of San Juan and give a discussion on the Human Rights Orientation. A Solidarity program will also be held for the residents of San Juan, she said. # nordis.net

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