By BRENDA DOCO
SAGADA, Mountain Province, — On going military operations in the territories of Sagada, Besao and adjacent municipalities of Abra greatly threaten the local population and economy.
This was revealed in incidents of reported military encounters around Barangay Dandanac in Besao.
Reports received by Nordis said that on July 20 at about 9:00 am, two brothers Edmond and Saturnino Laus Dazon were “captured” by the operating troops of 1st Lt. Jade Lyzterdan Padinas Gavino, Company commander of the Alpha Coy, 81st IB, 7ID, Philippine Army outside their shack (Bawi) near their farm in Sitio Ambuagui, Brgy. Dandanac.
According to the military report, the operating troops allegedly caught the brothers in possession of two Caliber 22 rifles, two magazines for caliber 22, and 20 pieces live ammunition for caliber 22.
However, in an interview with the brothers at the Besao Police Station and at the Besao District Hospital, the brothers said that they decided to dare go back to their farm shack to fetch their chickens and pig lest they be stolen or simply starve to death.
Earlier reports indicate that under the state of being a militarized area, this time by the above mentioned operating troops, the civilian population is prevented to visit or work on their gardens or farms, the main source of livelihood here. And also, because they are threatened by the circumstances of an on-going war operation the civilian population is forced to evacuate to safer grounds. In this particular incident, the operating troops had warned and imposed curfew and isolation methods on the local civilians while in operation.
As the brothers were caging their chickens for transport, not less than 10 operating troops arrived, surrounded them and accused them of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA). The armed troopers entered and searched their shack without any search warrant or permission to. Contrary to the earlier reports that they had captured the brothers in possession of the arms, they found the two homemade /converted caliber 22 rifles in their search inside the shack.
The brothers said, the troops used the rifles to threaten and interrogate them for not less than two hours, accusing them to be members of the NPA and then supporters of the NPA. Threatened them to name members of the rebel group, i.e. “NPA ka ano?? (are you not an NPA?), kayat mo ta usarek daytoy paltog mo nga mangpaltog kanyam? (Do you want me to use your gun to shoot you?)
Sinno, da ti kakadwa yo nga NPA? (Who are your NPA companions?), no ibaga yo ti nagnagan dagiti kakadwa yo nga NPA, mabalin nga maabswelto kayo (If you name your co-NPAs, maybe we set you free).
According to the brothers, the interrogation lasted 2 hours or so, after which the troops took them to the next community where they were met by the operating troops of the Besao Municipal Police station and the provincial Mobile Force Company (MPFC) led by PSI Glenn Apangchan in Dandanac Elementary School, where the brothers were turned over to the police.
The brother’s chickens were turned over to one of the community people before they proceeded to the Besao Police station where they stayed for a day or so, then they were brought to Besao district hospital because Saturnino was afflicted by acute gastritis and chest pains.
They were asked about the state of their ricefields, one of them said, “wada ya ay aminen di utot ya billit, ay adi am-amed ad wani ay maid pulos sumiput tay iyadi da, ay toanen mo intoy kana da as sa ummaan di ipugao as kaen da as makatawen as iyadi da met nan kaaniyan nan pagey.”
(The palay are being eaten by the birds and rats, much more now that nobody is allowed to go to the rice fields, I just don’t know if they could show the people where we could get enough food for a year since they do not allow us to harvest our rice).
Asked about the pig, Saturnino said, “ay owen, nalipatan ay nangisaa, ay way gapu as egyat, kedeng way natey et di, ay naayet di epat ay agew ya ay egay napakan. (Oh, yes, we forgot because of fear maybe, maybe it is dead by now since it was not fed for already 4 days).
As of July 25, the brothers were still confined at the hospital and should they be discharged they will be brought back to the police station.
It can be recalled that on July 14, there was an encounter between the 81st IB, 7ID, Philippine army in Dandanac where 2 members of the government forces died and another wounded, according to the community people of Dandanac.
Another encounter occured the next day (July 15) in the same area, where 4 of the government forces died and two more were wounded according to the military press release.
According to the brothers, their rice fields is about 20 meters down, below the encounter site which makes them even more vulnerable to harassment and such, but like Edmond said, “Ay ngan pay di mabalin mi as adi mi met mabalin awiten di payew ta iyadayo mi asnan ningubatan da.” What can we do? We cannot carry our rice fields and transfer it farther from the encounter site.
Local human rights workers have paid the brothers a visit and are monitoring their condition.# nordis.net