State elements arrest 18 in Talaingod

Eighteen mass leaders and activists, including former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and ACT Teachers Party Rep. France Castro, were arrested and slapped with trumped-up charges of kidnapping and human trafficking in Tagum City last November 29. A day earlier, elements of the police, 56th IB and the Municipal Social Work and Development Office put up roadblocks, interrogated and arbitrarily detained Ocampo and Castro, together with 77 other delegates of the National Humanitarian Mission (NHM) and the evacuees they rescued from Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

Last November 28, residents reported that elements of the Alamara paramilitary group forcibly locked down the campus of Salugpongan Ta’ Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center, Inc. (STTICLCI) in Sitio Dulyan, Barangay Palma Gil. Alamara troopers also intimidated the residents and implemented a food blockade. Due to unrelenting harassment by the military, residents, students and teachers were compelled to evacuate that night.With no dinner, they walked for more than three hours from the community towards the NHM delegates. The delegates reported that their convoy was stopped twice by 56th IB troopers; In Sitio Igang at around 8 p.m. where they were compelled to sign an “attendance sheet;” and in Sitio Upaw at around 9:20 p.m. where two gunshots were fired, and their vehicles stoned and spiked.

After this at around 9:30 p.m., the 79 delegates and evacuees were brought to and detained in the Talaingod Police Station. Among the detained were 29 students and 12 teachers of the STTICLCI.

In a related news, various progressive groups protested in front of Camp Crame on December 3 and in Boy Scout Circle, Quezon City on November 30 to condemn the illegal arrest of the Talaingod 18 and demand their immediate release.

The 18 were temporarily released on bail by the Tagum Regional Trial Court on December 1 after posting bails totaling to P1.44 million (P80,000 each). Fascist troopers continued to harass the victims and their supporters after leaving the courthouse.

On November 23, eight unidentified gunmen fired at three members of the Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Agusan del Sur (NAMASUR) in Sitio Cantagan, Barangay Lucac, San Francisco. The victims were identified as Datu Walter España, chairperson of NAMASUR, Rommel Romon and another companion. Romon immediately died after sustaining three gunshot wounds. España was immediately brought to the hospital and is still in critical condition after sustaining bullet wounds on his chest, stomach, legs and waist. Meanwhile, their companion survived and was able to report the incident. NAMASUR is known for strongly opposing the expansion of oil palm plantation of Davao San Francisco Agricultural Ventures Inc. (DASFAVI) in the area. España was subjected to threat and harassment prior to the incident.

On November 27, two suspected 29th IB agents shot Linus Cubol, former chairperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno-Caraga and regional coordinator of Anakpawis, in front of his store in Santiago, Agusan del Norte. The victim immediately died after sustaining five gunshot wounds. Prior to the incident, elements of the 29th IB continuously threatened and harassed Cubol. He was also repeatedly subjected to interrogation for his continuous participation in the activities of progressive groups.

It can be recalled that on November 27, Rodrigo Duterte declared that he will create a death squad purportedly against the members and those who want to join the NPA.

Meanwhile, four teachers were abducted and illegally detained by the 51st and 81st IB in Lanao del Sur. Four volunteer teachers of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao who were abducted by troopers of the said unit on November 12, were found to be under the custody of the military. The victims, identified as Tema Namatidong, 28, Julius Torregosa, 30, Ariel Barluado, 22, and Giovanni Solomon, 20, were abducted while conducting classes in a community school in Sitio Babalayan, Barangay Durongan, Tagoloan 2, Lanao del Sur.

Cpl. Rico Ordaneza of the 103rd IB confirmed that that the teachers were put under detention and are being investigated because they were purportedly seen together with Sultan Jamla who has a warrant of arrest for various criminal cases. Earlier, soldiers peddled a fake information that the victims were brought to Marawi City to confuse those ascertaining their whereabouts.

On November 18, five students of Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. (MISFI) were tortured by 19th IB troopers in Magpet, North Cotabato. The children were asked about the whereabouts of members of NPA and were beaten when they failed to respond. Two boys were mauled, forced to kneel on the ground and threatened to be killed.

Relatives of progressives are not spared from fascism. On November 24, nine 65th IB troopers based in Opol, Misamis Oriental tortured the family of Joseph Paborada, chairperson of Pangalasag, a Lumad local organization and member of Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization, organizations defending their ancestral domain.

At around 9 p.m., soldiers forced their way into his home and mauled Paborada, his wife and three children. A soldier even fired his gun twice and threatened Paborada that he will shoot him and one of his kids.

In Compostela Valley, unidentified male assailants harassed twice attacked the family of Paul John Dizon, chairperson of Nagkahiusang Mamumuo sa Suyapa Farms (NAMASUFA) on November 30. The family was able to foil the suspects’ attempt to torch their house at around 12 a.m. The suspects returned at around 1:30 a.m. and opened fire at the house. Members of NAMASUFA are currently encamped in Manila to fight contractualization and martial law in Mindanao.