Mayor disagrees with presence of military in communities

By DELIA BAGNI
www.nordis.net

CAGAYAN VALLEY – During the Fact Finding Mission (FFM) held at the San Juan, Rizal, Mayor Joel A. Ruma said he does not agree with the military being in San Juan. He said that the military presence sows fear in the communities, September 16.

He pointed out that the military presence is already a clear violation of human rights specially that the people, whose homes the soldiers from the 17th IBPA are squatting in, are not comfortable with their presence.

He also believed of the innocence of the three local civilians, suspected of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA), that were arrested last July 20 allegedly for their involvement in the killing of three intelligence operatives of the Philippine Army. “I know these people and I do believe that these cases will be dismissed,” he added.

Twenty nine (29) people were accused by Sgt. Arsenio Villar Capili of the 17th IBPA to be members of the New Peoples Army (NPA) under the Danilo Ben Command each with three counts of kidnapping with homicide of 2 intelligence operatives and a member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) last February 25. Among the twenty-nine accused, only eleven are from San Juan, Rizal. Marlon Baganay, Mendo Bisiotan and Lando Daryuin were the three named out of the twenty-nine accused and are now jailed in the Cagayan Provincial Jail.

According to the sworn statements by the family of the accused, soldiers arrived in their village on the night of July 20, forcibly took Baganay, Bisiotan and Daryuin and were brought to a military camp in Sicalao. Then the three were transported to a place without informing the family members at all. The families swore that the 3 were farmers and not NPA combatants.

According to the mayor, “this is the first incident of its kind in the municipality.” He believes that these cases will be dismissed with a proper legal team who are dedicated to helping the victims. “We hope that lawyers holding the case will take it seriously because the victims and their families will suffer much,” Ruma added.

Though the death of the three intelligence men were their own fault, this incident terrorized the people as well as brought disturbance to the community. This did not help the people, instead it has harassed them, Ruma added.

He said that the FFM will help the people in the communities to overcome the trauma from what they had experienced and it will help them know that there are non-government organizations who are willing to help them in times like this. The presence of the group will also help in unearthing the truth from the events.

He stated that whatever results surface from the FFM will help reveal the truth, to convince the complainants to withdraw the filed cases and to impose policies that applies to both armed groups which is not to stay within the communities because it is dangerous and prohibited.

Mia Rasalan of Karapatan Cagayan Valley added that FFM which is composed of different organizations aims to process the families of the victims and the communities affected, also to document human rights violations committed to bring perpetrators to the bar of justice. # nordis.net

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