Food and Peace in Mindanao: Karapatan calls for support
“The justness of the calls of the Manilakbayan ng Mindanao for food and peace is emphasized when on November 11, almost 400 individuals evacuated from Rosario and Bunawan, Agusan del Sur due to military operations of the 75th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA). One was killed during said operation, while two remain missing,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.
“As the more than 300 Manilakbayan contingent members travelled thousands of kilometers to get to Metro Manila, Philjohn Poloyapoy, 22, was killed by the elements of the 75th IB-PA in Sitio Bagong Silang, Bayugan 3, Rosario, Agusan del Sur. His two brothers, Philims and Philip, are missing,” she added.
The Manilakbayan 2014 is a journey of mostly peasants and indigenous peoples from the six regions in Mindanao who are now in Metro Manila. With the various sectors and advocacy groups, the Manilakbayan aims to amplify the call for a stop to military attacks in their communities, save indigenous people’s schools, end implementation of Oplan Bayanihan. As militarization is closely linked to big business interests in Mindanao, Manilakbayan also calls for an end of plunder of Mindanao resources by mining companies, and the resumption of the peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and Government of the Republic of the Philippines.
Survivors and relatives of victims of human rights violations are among those who joined the Manilakbayan ng Mindanao 2014 to give testimonies on how BS Aquino’s Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) sow terror in their communities.
Aside from the killing and disappearance of the Poloyapoy brothers, several other incidents of abuses and rights violations are going on in Agusan del Sur. Initial documentation conducted by Karapatan-Caraga cited the following:
In Sitio Katipunan, also in Rosario, Agusan del Sur, roving soldiers called and then went after Greenfield Torenia,16, who ran away from the soldiers, in fear. The soldiers followed Greenfield to his sister’s house. They threatened to stab the boy as another soldier was sharpening a bolo.
On several occasion and in different villages, the soldiers fired their guns indiscriminately, which has caused fear among the residents. The people did not want to get out of their houses anymore, not even to their farms because they were afraid to run into the soldiers. On November 11, the residents of the populated village of Sta. Monica and Sitio Kiatsan, Brgy. Bunawan Brook decided to evacuate after they heard another round of gunfire.
“Members of progressive organizations are scheduled to welcome the Manilakbayan ng Mindanao on November 24 at the Morayta-Recto intersection. Together, they will march to Mendiola to amplify the call of the people of Mindanao for food and peace,” Palabay added.
Meanwhile, the almost 400 evacuees are now at the Bayugan 3 gymnasium. “The people said they will remain where they are now until soldiers leave their communities,” said Palabay.
There are at least nine full sized AFP combat battalions in the Caraga region to date. Combat operations are conducted as part of BS Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan—to suppress people’s protests and to defend large-scale domestic and foreign investments especially in mining. There are at least seven known paramilitary groups in the region, as AFP’s force multiplier.
The evacuation in Agusan del Sur this November is the fourth documented case of forcible evacuation in the Caraga region in 2014. ###