By LULU GIMENEZ
QUIRINO, Ilocos Sur — Soldiers of the 81st IB detatched in Patungcaleo, Quirino, Ilocos Sur are harassing and threatening civilians after a suspected team of the New People’s Army (NPA) attacked the army detatment here, accusing them of being part of the NPA machinery.
At around 8:00 PM on October 9, the 81st IB detachment in Patungcaleo, Quirino, Ilocos Sur was rocked by a blast from a hand grenade lobbed by a suspected hit-and-run team of the NPA. No one got hurt or killed. The 81st reacted but did not chase the suspected perpetrators instead, they turned their ire at the civilians whom it considered part of its enemy’s machinery.
The detachment’s troops went around Patungcaleo, accusing particular persons of having housed or assisted the NPA team. Then late in the afternoon of October 11, the 81st IB’s Major Amado Gutierrez had the local council of Patungcaleo village convene a general meeting.
Gutierrez demanded that the people sign an agreement with the 81st IB, and warned that refusal to sign would serve as an indication of support for the NPA.
In the agreement, the signatories would promise to cut off their membership in the Save Quirino Movement (SQM) and to stop the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) from entering their barangay – because, according to Gutierrez, the SQM and the CPA were “galamay ng NPA” (tentacles of the NPA).
In addition to having this agreement signed, the 81st IB would interrogate specific individuals concerning their suspected involvement in the October 9 incident.
CPA criticized the 81st IB, saying that it was infringing on the people of Patungcaleo’s constitutional right to freedom of association, and that it had no business stationing troops in Patungcaleo, in the first place.
Military encampments in villages is a violation to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), an agreement signed between the government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Part IV, Article 12 of CARHRIHL states that “civilian population shall have the right to be protected against the risks and dangers posed by the presence of military camps in urban centers and populated areas.”
On the other hand, the Geneva Conventions of 1949 seeks the protection of civilian persons both in international and non-international armed conflicts. # nordis.net