DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Despite the declaration of respective unilateral ceasefires, a human rights group here reported the continuous threats received by farmers, many of whom were members of farmers association.

In a press conference, Barug Katungod Mindanao reported 46 cases of human rights violations from July to present.

The group’s convener, Sr. Luz Mallo of the Missionaries of the Assumption said “the relentless military operations of government troops in the rural communities have resulted in the encampment of soldiers community schools, extra judicial killings, harassment and vilification involving community teachers, peasants and Lumad leaders of progressive organizations.”

The group pointed at soldiers of the 39th, 68th, 66th, and 46th Infantry Battalions as the perpetrators and responsible for the killings in Southern Mindanao.

They tallied eight extra judicial killings, 33 use of public places like village halls, gymnasium for military purposes and endangerment, threat, harassment and intimidation, one case on attack on or use of schools, medical, religious and other public places or facilities for military purposes, three cases of threat, intimidation and harassment.

Edilberto Del Rosario, a farmer and a member of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas from Zamboanga Peninsula said among the recent killings included his son Elmer, 26, who was last seen in their “payag” (hut) near his farm where soldiers from the 55th IB were present last August 19.

Del Rosario narrated that on the day his son went missing, soldiers had threatened them during a meeting with the community.

“Mao pagkahuman jud sa among pulong-pulong, nag adto dayon ko sa akong payag duol sa umahan kay nangita ko sa akong bata…tung nakabalo na among silingan nagingon siya na basi gidala daw sa sundalo kay daghan daw sundalo sa akong payag (After the meeting, I immediately went straight to my hut near the farm to look for my son. But I didn’t see him. My neighbor told me that maybe he was with the military men since they were also there in the hut),” he said.

They found the body of his son buried near the area where the 55th IB personnel had encamped.

“Natingala ko kay nangutana sila kinsa daw papa atong lawas, ana ko ako, tas ana sila na, ‘ikaw man diay to nangita sa imong anak gahapon’ tas tung nangutana nato akong kauban unsa sila na IB, niingon dayon sila na nga wala daw silay alam sa pagkamatay kay kadtong adlawa pa daw sila kaabot sa area mao natingla ko ngano kabalo sila nangita ko gahapon (A group of military personnel asked us who is the father of Elmer, so I immediately said it’s me. They said that they recognized after I went to them looking for my son. But when my co-farmer asked from what IB do they belong to, they immediately defend themselves and said we should not accused them because they just arrived that morning),” he said.

Until now, he said the soldiers continued with the military’s peace and development program but during mornings they knock on doors of houses of farmers who were members of their association.

Ronie Villacarlos, a member of KMP Misamis Oriental also said that many villages have many soldiers encamped who are interrogating and discouraging farmers not to join rallies.

“Ginaadtuan jud mi sa amoang balay ug ginabaharan jud mi na kung dili mi magundang ug magpadayon daw mi ila daw mi patyon (They would go to our houses and warn us that if we continue to join rallies they will kill us),” he said.

As part of the observance of International Human Rights Day on December 10, the group along with various human rights advocates will mobilize in front of Eastern Mindanao Command headquarters in Panacan here to condemn the continued attacks against members of progressive organizations. (davaotoday.com)

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