By ALMA B. SINUMLAG
BAGUIO CITY — Katribu partylist strongly condemned the abduction of an Aggay leader in Rizal, Cagayan by joint elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Beverly Longid, president of Katribu, in an interview said this is the 3rd time that Aggays are subjected to human rights violations (HRVs) in the span of less than five months.
In data gathered by local human rights defenders, it was stated that on July 23, Saturday, Vicente Agbayani, 48 years old, resident of barangay Masi, Rizal, Cagayan belonging to the Aggay tribe (Indigenous Peoples in Rizal, Cagayan) was tortured and abducted by the members of the Charlie Coy of the 17th Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army (IBPA) and the Regional Mobile Group (RMG) of the PNP.
Agbayani, according to the report was working in their kaingin (slash and burn farm) with his wife, Salomea when suddenly, the perpetrators arrested him without a warrant. “Hindi lang hinuli kundi sinak-tan, binugbog at piniringan ng mata,” (He was not only arrested. He was even tortured physically and blindfolded) the report read.
The report added that Agbayani did not know of any reason for the state forces to arrest him. His wife who is pregnant was even hit. Witnesses were quoted that they had seen Salomea blood bathed. Salomea chose to follow her husband to where the armed elements brought him.
Still based on the report, he was brought to the town center of the municipality of Lasam, Cagayan. Also, witnesses said that Agbayani was abducted because the military accused him to be a member of the New Peoples Army (NPA).
The report further stated that the 17th IBPA with more or less 50 elements backed-up by the RMG has, since July 21, been conducting joint combat operations within the municipalities of Sto. Niño, Piat, Rizal and Lazam.
Agbayani, aside from being one of the Aggays in Rizal, is also a farmer leader. He is the leader of the Timpuyog Dagiti Man-nalon nga Aggay iti Zinun-dungan Valley and at the same time leader of the Katribu Chapter in the said valley.
In an interview, sources said relatives and neighbors of Agbayani went searching for him for days. They found him in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Tuguegarao City charged with five counts of multiple murder and two frustrated murder for allegedly being part of the ambush that killed five police officers in Rizal.
“We condemn the extra legal actions of the military against an innocent Aggay for there was no valid reason for them to arrest him, and even more to subject him to torture.” Longid said. This, she said, is the 3rd time that the Aggay community is terrorized by a joint AFP and PNP combat operation, and make false accusations against these civilian indigenous peoples to be members of the NPA.
She recalled that last March, a family of Aggay were shot by the soldiers while they were gathering food along the Sierra Madre mountains. One member of the family was killed. This she said was because they said they suspected them to be members of the NPA.
Moreover, she also recalled that on March this year, a 10 year old boy belonging to the B’laan tribe in Sarangani was forced by the military to carry arms and had taken pictures of him.
These violations Longid said are clear evidence that there is no change in the AFP system. “Ito ang sinasabi nilang Bayanihan?,” she exclaimed. She added that with the HRVs experienced by their IP brothers and sisters, the Oplan Bayanihan is no different from the past anti-insurgency program, Oplan Bantay Laya I and II that had took the lives of more than a thousand activists.
She also called on fellow IPs specially those in the countryside to be vigilant, the Oplan Bayanihan is deceptive and its implementors are armed and in search of an enemy, opening the unsuspecting civilian population vulnerable to human rights violations.This she added might be worse than the OBL I and II. # nordis.net