Marissa Alampayan said her husband had chosen a different path and principle in life. She respected it.
By ALEX D. LOPEZ
DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Another incident of harassment allegedly committed by the military against wives of members of the New People’s Army (NPA) has occurred, this time in Pandaitan village in Davao City’s Paquibato District.
The victims are Analyn Pesoro, Marissa Alampayan and Niza Cabonillas who are all from Paquibato District.
Pesoro told a recent press briefing held by the peace advocacy group Exodus for Justice and Peace (EJP), that soldiers belonging to the 69th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Philippine Army summoned her to the barangay (village) hall and forced her to facilitate the surrender of her husband.
Peroso said that the soldiers had been conducting a census in their area prior to this.
“At first they appeared to be friendly. They told us they would conduct a census to get our names until the visits got frequent and came to such a time that I was forced to yield to their questioning about my husband’s involvement in the NPA ,” Peroso said.
Cabonillas who is from Fatima village, Paquibato District, complained that even her children were not spared from the intimidation of the soldiers.
The soldiers, she said, came to the school of her children sometime in August and looked for students bearing the family name “Cabonillas.” The soldiers were allegedly saying that the persons they were looking for “belong to a family of NPAs.”
The incident, according to Cabonillas, struck fear among her children to a point that they dislike going to school anymore. “Ang akong mga anak nahadlok sa mga sundalo. Usahay dili na sila mangeskwela (My children are afraid of the soldiers. Sometimes they don’t go to school anymore),” Cabonillas said.
‘We are civilians’
Alampayan, who is from Pandaitan, urged the soldiers to stop the harassments. “Dili unta mi apilon sa ilang panag-gubat (We should be spared from their conflict),” appealed Alampayan.
She added her husband had chosen a different path and principle in life. She respected it.
“Usa ako ka sibilyan ug dili ako armado. Simple akong nanginabuhi nga nag-amoma sa akong mga anak ug nagtrabaho sa uma (I am a civilian and unarmed. I am a simple resident who cares for my children and work in the farm),” she added.
Army Commander of the 69th IB Lt. Col. Inocencio Pasaporte, however, denied his men are harassing the wives of the NPAs saying that it was the residents of Paquibato who told the military “Peace and Development Teams” (PDTs) that they know some of the wives of NPAs in the locality and “volunteered to facilitate the return of their husbands to the mainstream.”
“Being stationed in the place, the PDTs saw this as an opportunity for the re-integration of their husbands into the folds of the law and live normal lives,” Pasaporte said in a text message to davaotoday.com.
A series of incidents
This recent incident involving the military in allegations of committing harassment against wives of NPAs is the third of such kind reported recently.
It will be recalled that this also happened to a resident in Pandaitan, Paquibato last month where the victim, Lyn-lyn Genita complained that soldiers went to their house and held them at gunpoint. The incident reportedly happened on September 21.
Genita’s daughter-in-law who had just delivered a baby, suffered bleeding due to the incident and was brought to the hospital.
Another resident Irish Bregole had reported that military men who were said to be conducting a census were going to her house and asked “highly personal questions.”
The visits were followed by summons of the military directing them to appear at the barangay hall where they are grilled with the same questions about their husbands’ involvement in the NPA, all over again.
These have accordingly brought the women so much distress to a point that they have put their only means of livelihood, which is farming, on hold.
Similar incidents also occurred in Sta. Maria town in Davao del Sur last August.
Lindy Dawang, 21, who was six months pregnant, and Tayet Magwan, 27, said they were arrested by elements of the 39th IB and brought to the military headquarters. Magwan was brought to the battalion headquarters with her two-year-old child.
The military’s chief of the 10th ID’s Civil-Military Operations Battalion, Major Jake Obligado, however, claimed that the two women surrendered to the military.
The EJP decried this recent string of incidents and called for the immediate pull out of military troops in Paquibato district, and in areas where soldiers reportedly conducting PDTs figure in such blatant acts of human rights violations.
The EJP maintains that the wives of NPAs should be spared from such hostile acts of the military as they are clearly civilians.
The Davao City Council has passed a law that seeks to address human rights violations occurring in the course of armed conflict.
Called the “Rebelyn Code,” the measure was derived from the name of Rebelyn Pitao, daughter of NPA commander Leoncio “Ka Parago” Pitao, who was abducted, raped and brutally killed in 2009 by suspected members of the Intelligence Unit of the Armed Forces.
Proposed by Davao City Council Committee on Civil, Political and Human Rights headed by Councilor Karlo Bello, the code seeks to address human rights violations committed by the military against civilians, especially family members of individuals who are party to the armed conflict like the NPA.
The bill, however, is still pending on second reading since last year. (Alex D. Lopez/davaotoday.com)World