A Philippine Army battalion in Davao del Norte attempted to kill two farmers, one a minor, after torturing them for nearly nine days, a human rights group reported in an urgent alert Friday.
Karapatan Southern Mindanao Region (SMR) said the 71st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) accosted Janry Mensis, 22, and Jerry (not his real name), 16, small-scale miners, farmers, and members of Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Maco (KAMAO) who were just out buying balut at about 6pm of November 28 in Tagum City.
While eating, the victims were reportedly approached by ‘Medina’, ‘Cantoba’, and two other soldiers of the army unit in civilian clothing who accused them of being thieves.
The soldiers brought the victims to the police station in Tagum City where their photos were taken and were interrogated by police personnel in civilian clothing, Karapatan-SMR said.
When the police ascertained the victims were not thieves, Janry and Jerry were released back to the custody of Medina and Cantoba, the group added.
The soldiers then brought the victims to the 71st IBPA camp in Mawab, Compostela Valley where they were heavily beaten by ‘Ferol’ and ‘Cuevas’, Karapatan-SMR said.
The victims were also allegedly divested of their monies.
After the torture, the victims were reportedly tied and detained in a military ambulance parked inside the camp for nine days.
The military provided them food on only six days of their eight-day detention at the military camp, Karapatan SMR said.
On December 6, 2017, at around midnight, Janry and Jerry were reportedly forced to wear military uniforms and taken to Barangay Masara in Compostela Valley by about 20 soldiers.
At a remote location in Masara, the victims were reportedly hogtied and their mouths covered with packaging tape.
Janry and Jerry heard the military talking about plans to kill them who then prepared a pit for the two, Karapatan SMR said.
The soldiers reportedly tried to kill the victims by strangling them with a rope.
The victims played dead and were dragged into the pit, the group’s alert said.
The soldiers threw pieces of wood, poured a container of crude oil into the pit and tried to burn the victims, it added.
When the soldiers left, the victims escaped.
Janry suffered third degree burns.
The two walked for hours to return home and reported the incident to Karapatan SMR on December 12, the alert said.
More farmers arrested
Meanwhile, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) revealed more peasant leaders have been arrested in various provinces as Christmas nears.
Elmerito Pagulayan, Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon Iti Isabela (DAGAMI) – San Mariano chairperson, was arrested by the PNP in Isabela last December 19 and charged with frustrated murder, KMP said.
“We denounce Pagulayan’s arrest and detention. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of all arrested farmers and activists,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos said.
KMP added that among those arrested since November were:
- Oliver Molina and Robert Dalupang, farmers from Brgy. Diasan, Isabela and members of DAGAMI, currently detained at the 86thIB army camp in Balabal, Brgy. Uno, Jones, Isabela;
- Carlito Badillo, leader of Tag-alag Tag-alag Farmers and Fisherfolk Association who was arrested in Marabut, Eastern Samar and charged with rebellion and illegal possession of explosives;
- Activist couple Senando Jacutin, 47, peasant organizer of KMP in Western Mindanao, and Rosario Tabanao, 47, coordinator of Karapatan-Western Mindanao who were arrested by the CIDG Region 9 and the 1st Infantry Tabak Division of the Philippine Army and currently detained at the Pagadian City Police Station in Zamboanga del Sur;
- Richard Avino, Teny Gerbon and Arnel Aquino who were arrested by elements of the 20th IBPA after being tagged by the army unit as NPA members.
The KMP challenged President Duterte to ”walk the talk and order a pull-out of AFP troops from peasant and Lumad communities nationwide” while his unilateral ceasefire declaration from December 24, 2017 to January 2, 2018 is in effect.
The AFP cannot be trusted as it has committed hundreds of violations that targeted civilians, KMP said.
“The AFP would be the first to violate its Commander-in-Chief Duterte’s declaration of ceasefire,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)