DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A farmer has yet to recover from the beating he took from soldiers on March 3 after he was forced to admit that he was bringing rice for the communist rebels.
Forty four-year-old Eduardo Mandabon told Davao Today in an interview on Thursday, Mar. 16, that he was beaten and made to eat salt, sugar, and chilies by soldiers who held him for hours for interrogation.
Mandabon said the incident happened on March 3 after selling bananas in the neighboring village of Tagada, a sitio in Barangay Maragatas, Lupon town Davao Oriental. Tagada is an hour travel by foot or by horse from Mandabon’s village in Sitio Sigang. He said he was with his neighbor named, Noel Naredo who is also a farmer.
He said around 10:00 am they saw some 20 soldiers in a school in Sigang and they were asked to enter the school compound.
“Gipasulod mi sa compound sa eskwelahan, hasta ang mga kabayo, hasta ang mga bugas,” Mandabon said.
Mandabon said all their belongings were unloaded from the horses and they were asked whether or not the sacks of rice contained “palaman”. Mandabon explained that a “palaman” means that there are illegal stuff inside the sack.
Mandabon told the soldiers that there was no illegal stuff inside their belongings.He said they were asked for whom the rice were, and they said “amo nang bugas Sir (it’s ours Sir).”
He said a soldier immediately pointed a knife on his right side.
“Iya man tung giduot, unya sakit man, ingon ko ‘ayaw, Sir’ (He pushed it hard and it was painful, I told him ‘don’t do it, Sir’),” Mandabon said.
From their belongings, Mandabon said the soldiers took the salt and put it on his hands and asked him to eat it.
“Tungod sa akong kahadlok, ako pud gikaon. Unya kay di man maagwanta, gipatulon man, akong giluwa (Out of fear I ate the salt. The soldier told me to swallow it but I cannot do it, so I spit it out),” he said. The soldiers then asked him to eat sugar.
But that’s not all since the military also got a can of sardines and hit him on his head. He was also asked to hit is own head with the can.
Mandabon said the soldiers brought him at the back of the school compound where the torture continued.
He said he was asked to eat chilies and ‘iba’ (a type of sour fruit), his hand was beaten with the butt of a long firearm by three soldiers. He said his hands were placed on the table and was hit by the rifle’s butt.
Mandabon showed to Davao Today the mark of a wound on his right hand due to the beating.
Not contented, the soldiers, he said, took their turns on hitting his head that caused him to be slightly deaf on his right ear.
“Dili paigo, gilaparo nila akong ulo. Hangtod sa akong dunggan maoy hinungdan sa akong pagkabungol (They were not contented, they hit me several times on the head, including my ear, that’s the reason why I have difficulty in hearing),” Mandabon said.
“Murag nabuslot gani ang samin-samin ani (I think my ear drum was affected),” he said.
He said he was also punched on his left side, which until now, hurts. After the soldiers hit his head, they pointed their gun at him. Mandabon said he was forced to admit that the rice is for the New People’s Army.“Mao ra to human na, wala na ko gibun-og (Then that’s it, they stopped beating me),” he said. Mandabon said his neighbor Noel also told him that he was hurt by the Army, but he did not give any more details.
The soldiers then brought him to the village chief of Barangay Maragatas where he was asked to sign a document by the police that they were caught by the soldiers. The document also proved that they were sent home unharmed.
Mandabon said because of his fear at the time, he was not able to tell the police that he was beaten by the soldiers.He was also interviewed by a staff in the municipal hall and only asked them who owns the rice. He said he told the staff that it was for the NPAs.
Mandabon said he now wants to file his complaint since the beating affected his ability to work.
“Niuli ko sa amo lagi kay pamilyado motrabaho—pag-abot didto dili ko katrabaho. Gisabot nako ang akong pamilya nga moreklamo ko. Ireklamo nako ni, bahala na nga naay gipirmahan nako didto total pagpirma nako didto wala nako sa maayong paminsar (I went home to my family because I need to work, when I arrived, I cannot work well. I told my family that I will file a complaint. I don’t care if I have signed that document anyway, I was forced to sign it because I was under duress),” Mandabon said.
Mandabon arrived in Davao City Tuesday for media interviews. Along him are other farmers who have various complaints against the military.
Capt. Andrew Linao, Civil Military Operations officer of the 701st Brigade told Davao Today on Thursday that they have not yet received a report from their ground troops on the alleged torture of Mandabon.He said farmers who experience military abuse can file a case against the government troops before the police and assured that the military will not condone abuses by soldiers.
“He can file the case to the police and rest assured that we will not tolerate actions like this,” he said.
He said the side of the battalion should also be heard during the investigation. The area is under the responsibility of the 28th Infantry Battalion, said Linao.
Filing before the Joint Monitoring Committee
Jay Apiag, spokesperson of human rights group Karapatan, said Mandabon’s case is just one of the complaints that they are documenting which they will file before the Joint Monitoring Committee of both the government peace panel and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
The Joint Monitoring Committee has the task to monitor and implement the objectives of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, the first agreement signed between the government and the NDFP.
During the third round of talks in January this year, the parties signed the Supplementary Guidelines that will guide and fully operationalize the work of the JMC. (davaotoday.com)