By BRANDON LEE
LAGAWE, Ifugao – Results of a recent fact finding mission surfaced a spate of threats, harrasment and intimidations committed by elements of the Philippine National Police and Philippine Army stationed in the province.
In response to distress calls from victimized farmers and residents in the towns of Asipulo and Tinoc the Ifugao Peasant Movement (IPM) organized a fact-finding mission to the area that ran from July 26 to July 30th 2012. It was participated in by Katribu Ifugao, the Ifugao Resource and Development Center (IRDC), Center for Development Programs in the Cordillera (CDPC) and the Montanosa Research and Development Center (MRDC).
The FFM team made courtesy calls and notified the Governor and the Municipality Mayors of Asipulo and Tinoc of their purpose and tried to get their side of the initial reported allegations. The team was however given an initiation by fire when they were harassed, vilified, intimidated by malicious picture taking and threatened by elements of the PNP and 86th Infantry Battallion Philippine Army.
In the fact finding report released by IPM, the results of the investigation revealed that that a series of violations were committed by the 86th IB and had taken place from April to July of this year.
On April 26th, Lito Gulunan while traveling with his daugther on his motorcycle were stopped by soldiers belonging of the 86th IB who informed him that they are to search his house. When the military saw that there were 6 rainboots, and plenty of blankets, the soldiers concluded that Lito’s house was a lodge for the NPA. However, Lito, denied and claimed the supplies were for his family. After a two hour interrogation, Lito and his daughter were allowed to go home in the pouring rain.
Arsenia Listino was visited at her house in Duntogto, Binablayan, Tinoc, on April 27th as well as on July 21st by three-dozen armed soliders belonging to the 86th IB who were searching for the firearms taken during the NPA’s ambush of the 86th IB last April 25th. When they could not find the firearms, they trampled on Listino’s crops, flattened to the ground.
On one evening in May, Tibaldo Catalino was awakened and forced to guide a group of military men from his home in Lahyudan, Numpaling to Pitikan, Tinoc. Along the trail, the soldiers took turns asking Catalino to take them to the NPA camp. When Catalino asked to go back, the soldiers threatened him.
Two months later, on July 21st, Jimmy Canutu, a gardener in Duntogto, was approached by the same three dozen men that approached Listino. The soldiers asked him what he was doing with large calderos (frying pots). Canutu responded that it was for his ubbo (community). The men barged into his house and ransacked it for the missing firearms taken during the last ambush. When Canutu asked what they were looking for, the soldiers accused that Canutu of participating in the last ambush and that he should show them where the NPA camp is and if the soldiers could not find it, they would come back to bury Canutu and any civilians around.
Later that day, around 6:30 am, approximately three dozen soldiers removed the walling and plywood of the Department of Agriculture nursery searching for evidence that Gabino Lindawan, the care taker of the nursery, hid the firearms from the ambush. Shortly after, half a dozen soldiers entered a store owned by Cathrene Dinamling. The soldiers took several supplies from her store but paid for only half of what they took. On the same day, at 7am, Julia Hambon a 60 year year old farmer was shocked to see a parading soldiers trampling over her garden, some of the soldiers uprooted and pilfered for their own consumption. According Hambon the armed men, accused her rudely that she would give her crops to the NPAs anyway.
Two days later on July 23rd, Hambon’s son, Glen was harassed by similar armed military men wearing bonnets over their face. They removed the plate number of his motorcycle and stole p850 from Glen. According to Glen, he was about to purchase gasoline for his motorcycle and chainsaw.
Two days later in Duntogto, Dulay Galwan, a farmer, on his way to garden was stopped by the 86th IB and searched his bag. The soldiers found his lunch pack in the bag and accused him of going to feed the NPAs. Galwan was interrogated for almost two hours until neighboring farmer vouched for him. When Galwan was released he was already too late for the ubbo.
According to the report, apparently the spate of harassment received from the elements of 86th 86th IB was in retaliation for the NPA’s ambush in April, in the province.
Edwin Bumolyad, the Secretary General of the Ifugao peasant Movement (IPM), said “We should be in a state of Calamity from all the Military abuses, which most likely would even go unpunished”
In conclusion, Bumolyad committed, “We will do everything in our power and capacity to expose these crimes starting with forwarding the report on the said violations to Govenor Eugene Balitang, the Committee for Human Rights (CHR) and the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA).#