“The military has been committing grave abuses against civilians through its peace and development operations under the Aquino government’s counter-insurgency operational plan Bayanihan.” – Pastor Sadrach Sabella, Karapatan-Socsksargends coordinator
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Human rights group Karapatan in Socsksargends (South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, Davao del Sur and Gen. Santos City) region scored the military’s 73rd Infantry Battalion for the alleged abuses against residents of Sitios Tikatig and Taburokon in Kinangan village, Malita, Davao del Sur.
Pastor Sadrach Sabella, coordinator for Karapatan-Socsksargends, reported that soldiers from the 73rd IB gave the residents until 5 p.m. to vacate their homes last June 18.
The incident happened after government troops and communist guerillas figured in an alleged encounter last June 14 in the center of Kinangan village. Afterwards, Karapatan said, the military launched massive operations affecting more than 100 residents.
“Residents were forced to leave their houses, food produce and farm animals,” lamented Sabella. He added some of those who were forced to evacuate are now staying with relatives nearby, while others are compelled to stay in the already cramped village hall.
The military also allegedly used village officials to implement the forced evacuation. Soldiers, headed by one Corporal Angeles Bravo, are said to be encamping within the civilian community.
Sabella said the military clearly violates the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law “because it puts the lives of the civilians in danger especially when clashes erupt (between the NPA and government troops).”
On Thursday (Jun. 20), a team from Karapatan went to Kinangan village to check on the affected residents. However, Sabella said Cpl. Bravo denied that there were evacuees.
“Corporal Bravo is lying through his teeth. He’s afraid that their many abuses will be exposed to the public,” Sabella said, believing that the military hid the evacuees.
He noted that their team saw soldiers staying in the houses of civilians. He said they took photos but the soldiers ordered them to delete those. They were left with no choice but to follow since, “There were only four of us from Karapatan compared to the number of soldiers in the area.”
Karapatan also reported that many civilians were harassed.
“The military has been committing grave abuses against civilians through its peace and development operations (PDOP) under the Aquino government’s counter-insurgency operational plan Bayanihan,” Sabella said.