By RODA TAJON
VIGAN CITY ― After the President Noynoy Aquino orders a unilateral ceasefire on December 16, a Human Rights defenders group in Ilocos called for the immediate pull-out of military troops in several towns of Ilocos Sur.
According to Mila Marcelo, public information officer of the Ilocos Human Rights Alliance (IHRA-KARAPATAN), “despite the pronouncement of the Aquino government for a unilateral ceasefire, the elements of 3rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army under Lt. Col. Rogelio Mesias continue to conduct pursuit operations in the towns of Sta. Lucia, Salcedo, Sta.Cruz and Cervantes, Ilocos Sur.”
“In these towns, elements of 3rd IBPA encamped in public places adjacent to day care and health facilities and even civilian homes, which result to instilling fear among the people.”
Marcelo related that the military teams were even looking for organizers and members of organizations whom the military publicly vilify as “enemies of the state”.
Marcelo said that they conducted public meetings in the above mentioned communities, introducing themselves as “Peace and Development Teams”, while conducting combat operations, at times even commando operations.
“The 3rd IBPA has deployed a large number of its troops to terrorize and deceive communities with its Oplan Bayanihan.” Marcelo stressed.
Oplan Bayanihan is the counterinsurgency program of the Aquino government. According to the military, it is a paradigm shift and will focus on the respect for human rights. IHRA and other human rights groups condemn the operation as anti peoples’ rights.
“Oplan Bayanihan is a deceptive program; while they were conducting medical missions and other socio-civic programs in certain communities, a large number of the troops were conducting combat operations, as they encircle the communities with hundreds of their troops”
Marcelo said these actions instill fear among the civilian populace and he concludes that the military should pull out their troops immediately as it is a “clear violation” of the unilateral ceasefire.
“It’s time for them to go and stop terrorizing the civilian communities.” Marcelo ended. # nordis.net