The US-Duterte regime’s attacks are worsening against the people of Mindanao, especially peasants and national minorities, under martial law. In Northern Mindanao, in particular, cases of extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests and detention, intimidation, harassment, forced surrender and militarization of entire communities have risen.
These aim to silence the people’s struggles for land, ancestral land and the right to self-determination. These also seek to serve the interests of corporations which own big plantations and plunder the environment.
Reports of human rights defenders show that from the time martial law in Mindanao was imposed up to December 2018, there have been at least five cases of frustrated murder, one case of disappearance, 10 victims of torture, 100 cases of illegal arrest and detention, 465 cases threats, harassments and intimidation, 245 victims of indiscriminate firing, 727 victims of bombings and 1,827 victims of forcible evacuation.
The number of cases of fake and forced surrenders in Bukidnon has also risen, particularly in San Fernando, Quezon, Pangantucan, Sumilao and Impasug-ong. The group documented the murder last September 15, 2018 of Rex Hangadon, a Lumad peasant, fired upon by 23rd IB troops while resting in his hut in Sitio Bulak, Lower Olave, Buenavista, Agusan del Norte. Meanwhile, his father, who was with him at that time, remains missing.
At the outset of 2019, the regime has conspicuously used civilian institutions and agencies for military purposes under the “whole of nation approach” and the 12 Pillars of the NISP. The following are the most recent case of killings and intimidation:
Killings. Two Lumad peasants, Randel Gallego and Emel Tejero, were killed by 36th IB soldiers last January 24 in Barangay Buhisan, San Agustin, Surigao del Sur. Gallego and Tejero, together with four others, went to Sitio Dilinggion, Km 30 in the said barangay to harvest abaca. Walking home around 2 p.m., Gallego and Tejero with two others came across the soldiers at Km 19. The soldiers immediately fired upon the group hitting Gallego and Tejero. Their two companions survived and reported to the community.
Meanwhile, the two other left in the abaca farm decided to go home upon hearing the gunfire. They encountered the soldiers and were illegaly arrested. They were brought back to the abaca farm, restrained and interrogated through the night. They were set free only in the following morning.
After five days, the 401st Brigade reported that Gallego and Tejero were NPA members who died in an encounter.
Soldiers of the 401st Brigade, including the 75th IB, the 36th IB and 16th SFB, are responsible for the attacks against Manobo communities in Lianga, Marihatag, San Agustin and Tago since December 2018.
Illegal arrests. Six activists in Misamis Oriental were successively arrested by soldiers and police last January 28 and 30.
On January 28, soldiers of the 65th IB and operatives of the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group abducted Datu Jomorito Goaynon, chair of the Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization, and Ireneo Udarbe, chair of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Northern Mindanao.
From their office in Barangay Bulua, Cagayan de Oro City, the two were travelling around 10 a.m. to meet with a member organization of Kalumbay and later hold a dialogue with the 65th IB representatives regarding complaints of harassment and forced surrenders. The two failed to attend the meeting and communication with their family and colleagues were cut off.
The following day, they were presented before the public as NPA leaders and were slapped with trumped up charges based on planted evidence.
On January 30, around 6:30 p.m., the same units of the PNP and AFP attacked the office of the Misamis Oriental Farmers’ Association (MOFA) in Barangay Looc, Villanueva, Misamis Oriental. They arrested Jerry Basahon, 48, chair of MOFA; Gerald Basahon, 43, MOFA council members and staffers Marivic Coleta, 22, and Mylene Coleta, 19.
In addition, they also took two babies and a minor and were placed under DSWD custody. The two, who were said to be children of NPA fighters, were kept as virtual hostages. The objective was to compel the children’s parents to surface. This trampled on the rights of the children to be free and not be subjected to any form of violence. The state is primary responsible to uphold this right.
Before entering the office, the soldiers and police fired upon the place and aimed their guns even at the children. They planted evidences of guns and explosives and accused the four arrested as NPA members.
Militarization and bombing of Lumad communities. Last January 21, the AFP carried out a series of bombings near Decoy, Panukmoan, Manluy-a and Km. 15, communities in Barangay Diatagon. As a result, 55 families were forced to leave their homes. On January 22, 64 families and 333 individuals from Manluy-a, Panukmoan and Decoy fled due to non-stop military operations and bombings. They are suffering from grave trauma and hunger as a result of food blockade and bombings.