By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
RIZAL, Cagayan — Two Malauegs from San Juan, Zinundungan Valley still fear for their safety due to trumped up charges state soldiers filed against them in 2015.
Brothers Nelson Asucena, 44 and Joel Asucena, 40 rely on farming to support their families. But they could not freely tend to their farms due to fear for their safety after state soldiers filed kidnapping and homicide against them.
Nelson has six children while Joel has five.
Nelson and Joel learned that state soldiers filed charges against them for the death of two military intelligence agents and one CAFGU member when they received the court summons on September 29 last year.
“We have not even met the three people the soldiers accused us of kidnapping and killing,” Joel said.
Joel said they had to leave Zinundungan and sought the help of Karapatan-Cagayan Valley. He said they stayed at the Karapatan office for a few months after they received the court summons.
“We feared for our lives because we know that the military can just make us disappear without anyone knowing. Just like what they had done to one of our villagemate in 2009,” Joel said.
Joel said there had been continuous military operations in Zinundungan in 2015. He said they were only able to return to their homes this year.
But he said they still take precautions when tending their farms even when soldiers had left their villages. He said that they must be at least a group of 20 men when they go to their farms. He said their farms are up in the mountains and they fear they might meet soldiers in operations there.
Nelson said that on the date that the agents and CAFGU were supposed to be kidnapped, they were attending a meeting for the beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer at their barangay. “How can we possibly be in two places at one time,” he asked.
“We do not understand why we are being implicated,” Nelson said.
Nelson shared that their villages had been the target of military operations against NPA rebels for as long as he could remember. He said that he experienced first hand state military violence at a very young age.
He recounted that in 1986 operating state soldiers fired at him and his father, Esmundo but missed. After firing at them, the soldiers forcibly took them and dragged them into a helicopter. He said that while the helicopter was flying the soldiers threatened to drop them off.
Esmundo is now 76 years old.
“The soldiers asking so many questions and were forcing us to admit that we were NPA rebels,” he said.
Nelson said they were brought to a military camp where they were mauled in between questions. He said they were not fed for three days.
“We were later released when they could not extract any information from us and they could not get anything because we know nothing,” he said.
Nelson said his family was among the few families who decided not to leave their villages in 1986. He said that due to heightened militarization in their villages at that time most of the people of Zinundungan left their homes.
“It is tormenting to be always living in fear but what can we do, this is our village, this is our home, we can not just abandon our home,” Nelson said. # nordis.net