By PRECIROSE ANGEL
LAGAWE, Ifugao — The call for peace based on justice was reiterated by the Justice and Peace Advocates in Ifugao (JPAI) in their meeting on August 21, 2018 here.
Peace advocates saw the need to break the culture of violence, hate and impunity by first understanding how Ifugao was not spared from the intensifying human rights violations in the country.
“As religious people, we have our belief in peace and justice.” James Tayaban of CPA Ifugao said. “How can we say we love our neighbors when there is so much injustice and we are doing nothing about it?” he added.
Tayaban narrated how Ifugaos used to be controlled by warlords and the 3G’s (guns, goons, and Gold) until the Free Ifugao Movement (FIM) was born out of the struggle to eliminate those problems. Warlordism may have ended but Ifugaos testified that state oppression still exists today.
“Rebel Surenderees” and “NPA lists”
A resident from Tinoc Town who requested that his name be withheld for security reasons refuted the claim of the 54th IBPA on their press releases that the they (civilians) “voluntarily surrendered as NPA and NPA supporters”. The resident said that what happened on August 7, 2018 was a dialogue between the civilians included in the supposed “military list of NPA members and supporters”, and was facilitated by Tinoc Mayor Marcelo G. Catalino to clarify why their names were included in that list.
“Adda ti sundalo nga nagpwesto idiay ayan mi. Maysa ak nga suspek nga hanku ammu”. Inbaga da nga ada nagan ku iti listaan da isunga apan mi linisan ti nagan mi. Napan kami idjay opisina ni Mayor ijay Tinoc, inalalayan dakami kenni Mayor. Kunada (military) nga adda kanu ti papeles nga pirmaan mi ta agsapata kami. Haan mi nga intuluk ta haan met nga agpayso nga NPA kami.” (There are soldiers stationed at our Barangay. I am one of their suspects (as NPA) that I did not know. The soldiers told me that my name is in their list and I should clear it. We went to the office of the mayor to seek help and the mayor assisted us. The military told us to sign some documents but we never signed because it is not true that we are NPA rebels).
After that incident, they were shocked to hear from the radio that they were labeled as rebel surrenderees and Militia ng Bayan (MB). “Sunga na-technical kami gayam” added the resident. After the dialogue, the military gave them a DSWD relief box containing around 3kg rice and assorted can goods.
Farmers in Asipulo shared similar problems with Tinoc. A farmer in Camandag, Asipulo (name withheld) complained that the military has been harassing them since Martial Law. He said the military use the same tactics forcing farmers to clear their name by surrendering as NPAs or Milisya ng Bayan.
Last year, 21 farmers from Namal, Asipulo were also asked to surrender. Eleven (11) farmers from Namal were on their way to have a dialogue with the provincial governor but were instead deceived and brought to the 54th IB headquarters to surrender. The farmers signed their names out of fear.
Ma’am Fely Pawingi from the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) and a board member of the Lagawe Multi-purpose Development Cooperative (LMDC) also stated that there can be no peace when the poor had been robbed of P2.7 million assistance from the 4Ps. She sought any information that can lead to justice for the poor in apprehending the thieves.
In response to the testimonies, Atty. Dionisio Milio of the Ifugao Provincial Legal Office offered his legal services. He also said that in terms of justice, peace and development, it depends on how people view things.
“Nu ti panunut mu ket progressive ken community centered, ti panagkita da ket sabali ka.”Dapat kuma ket supplementary dayta eh iti araramiden ti gobyerno para iti pagsayaatan ti probinsya tayo. Nu maminsan ket mamis-interpret da. Nu activist ka ket terrorist ka. Dapat ket haan nga kasjay.” (If your thinking is progressive and community-centered, the way they see you is different. That should be supplementary to the government is doing for the development of our province, but sometimes they will misinterpret it. If you are an activist, you are a terrorist. That should not be that way).
With these developments in the interior communities of Ifugao, the call for justice and peace in Ifugao is once more reiterated # nordis.net