By SHERWIN DE VERA
BAGUIO CITY — The Abra Human Rights Movement (AHRM) condemned the relentless violation of people’s rights and International Humanitarian Law by members of the 24th Infantry Battalion. The group said they received reports from people’s organizations in the municipalities of Sallapadan and Malibcong of soldiers threatening civilians and encamping inside residential areas.
On August 31, soldiers from the 24th IBPA illegally searched three houses in Barangay Ud-udiao in Sallapadan town looking for Adjato Pati. Unable to find him, the soldiers turned their frustration to his children, pointing their guns and threatening them according to AHRM.
Pati is a member of SAPIT (Salakniban Pita Takay/Protect our Land), the town-level multi-sectoral organization under Kakailian Salakniban Tay Amin Nagtaudan (KASTAN) – Cordillera Peoples Alliance Abra.
AHRM added that another member of SAPIT and resident of Ud-udiao, Rogie Buenafe, was also reported missing by his villagemates since August 30. His organization and community have mobilized to search for him.
In Malibcong town, Human Rights Officer of Brgy. Bangilo Antonio Ambalneg reported that since May 23 soldiers from the 24th IB’s Alpha and Bravo companies encamped inside the residential areas of Lat-ey, Umnap and Buanao, utilizing barangay halls and houses as stations.
He said the soldiers claimed to be in possession of a ‘watch list” containing names of residents suspected of supporting the NPA, adding that leaders of people’s organizations are charged by the military as members of the Milisyang Bayan or accused of providing storage and information for the NPA courier.
Ambalneg also claimed he experienced harassment from the military. He narrated that he was interrogated and accused by soldiers as NPA member after for his participation in the dialogue organized by the National Economic Development Authority on May 8, 2018.
AHRM also slammed the local government led by Governor Joy Bernos for colluding with the 24th IBPA that imposed a de facto martial law in the province, accusing progressive organizations and activists as communist fronts
Meanwhile, in a separate incident, the 5th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces in the Philippines on August 31, claimed their troops killed a suspected New People’s Army member in an alleged encounter in Bontoc, Mountain Province.
Soldiers from the 50th Infantry Battalion reported they engaged rebels in an overnight battle in the mountains of Mainit on Thursday until dawn Friday. The army encountered an estimated 30 rebels while on patrol.
The government forces suffered no casualties and recovered two M16 rifles said Captain Jefferson Somera, division spokesperson and public affairs chief.
Remains of the slain rebel was brought to a local funeral parlor for autopsy and identification. The NPA has yet to acknowledge the incident. # nordis.net