By ALMA B. SINUMLAG
PARACELIS, Mt. Province — Women of Banga-banga, Aguinaldo, Ifugao trooped to witness a hearing at barangay Botigue Lupon Tagapamayapa of a case filed against an AFP second lieutenant here and hoped for a chance to air their experience of military harassment.
The contingent of 20 villagers arrived at the barangay early in the morning of Saturday, 18 June but were not given permission to address the Lupon. To which members of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance, organized a forum for them to relate their issues to members of the Ifugao Peasant Leaders Forum (IPLF), Cordillera Peoples Alliance – Mt Province (CPA – MP), and Innabuyog – Gabriela who also arrived to witness the hearing held that afternoon.
Edna Gaing, 38 years old, of Ifugao shared her series of experiences of harassment by the military. She said, she was in her farm the first time the military went to their house on May 23.
When She arrived home at around 5:00 o’clock PM, she noticed a plastic container used to store water was missing. It has not been returned as of press time.
The second time was on May 24. The military she said went to their house again and were forcing her to admit that she was an ‘asset’ of the New Peoples Army (NPA). “Kunada nga alaendak kanu ta ipandak ijay ofis da,” (They told me that they will get meand take me to their office) she said.
She however refused and told the military elements that she will only go with them if they (military) had an evidence that she really is an NPA asset. The military said they will have enough evidence, she was given no choice but to go with them.
At the dawn of June 18, Gaing said a group of armed men posing as NPAs went to their house and were insisting to enter. Her husband she said was tending their pig outside their house when the military came and informed him that they will enter the house but her husband did not agree because she was asleep inside. They however insisted and entered.
“Mapan ko kuma i-lock diyay ruwangan ta nangngeg ko ti tungtungan da ngem nasabat ko isuda nga sumrek,” (I was about to go and lock the door because I heard their conversation but I saw them entering already) she added.
They told her that they will enter to see something. However, she resisted and told them “…haan ta awan ti hustisya iti rabii” (…no because there is no justice during the night). They were dressed in civilian attire but were armed.
“Ngem ammu mi latta nga militar da ta naka combat boots da ken jay backpack da ket kasla met laeng ijay usar ti militar,” (We knew that they were members of the military because they wore combat boots and their backpacks was the same with the military issued backpacks) Gaing said. She even added that they had already seen members of the NPA that is why they recognized the difference.
The military even asked her if she is going to attend the barangay hearing but she denied because of fear.
Moreover, almost all the houses in barangay Banga-banga were subjected to a search.
The day after the hearing, Gaing said because of fear, all those who attended the barangay hearing slept in one house. They fear that they will be intimidated again because they attended the barangay hearing.
Aside from Gaing, several men in the village were ordered to be brought to the military camp but they resisted. # nordis.net