DAVAO CITY – Convenors and delegates of the Barug Katungod Mindanao Conference in Cagayan de Oro City Saturday apprehended an armed man who introduced himself as a member of the media.
In a statement to the press, the organizers identified the man as Rolando L. Gomonit, Sr., who was caught in possession of a .45 caliber pistol and two magazines of ammunition.
The organizers said Gomonit asked for a conference kit and was “looking through the names of delegation of the conference.”
“In the registration sheet, he identified himself as a member of an organization he named “Lumad”,” said Barug Katungod in a statement.
The group said the local chapter of Karapatan and Lumad organization Kalumbay, recognized Gomonit as “the same intelligence officer they have apprehended in one of their human rights activities this year.”
Gomonit was immediately turned over to the police. Delegates asked for his camera phone when some of them reported that he was seen taking pictures of the delegates. The organizers said Gomonit’s phone was found by one of the delegates in the women’s toilet, which they also turned over to the police.
“When asked how he knew about the conference, he said he just followed one of the delegates who was wearing a shirt of one of the member organizations of the conference,” said Barug Katungod.
About a hundred human rights activists in Mindanao gathered in Cagayan de Oro City today for the Barug Katungod Mindanao (Mindanao Stand for Human Rights) Conference “as a response to the intensifying military attacks and political repression experienced by fellow human rights defenders in Mindanao.”
Sr. Noemi Degala, SMSM said their gathering also “complements with the weeklong protest rallies for the burial and wake of Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), Dionel Campos, chairman of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang Sa Sumusunod or MAPASU, and his cousin Juvello Sinzo.”
The three were killed by armed paramilitary group who identified themselves as comprising the Mahagat/Bagani group on September 1 at Barangay Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.
“The shameless deployment by the government of an armed intelligence man on a human rights conference is a glaring example of impunity in Mindanao,” Degala said.
Degala said “armed intelligence men roam free in the cities and communities, documenting gatherings and meetings and reporting them to the military and the police.”
“These information become one of the government’s sources for trumped-up charges being filed against human rights activists and villification of their organizations and activities,” she said.
Barug Katungod Mindanao believes that the attacks against human rights activists is part of the government’s counter-insurgency operations targets which will end in 2016 as the term of President Benigno Aquino III ends.
The group said they see “a new trend of criminalizing human rights defenders for their human rights work.” (davaotoday.com)