Karapatan blames military for deadly, ‘indiscriminate’ Comval attacks

Feb. 10, 2016

TAGUM CITY – Human rights group Karapatan in Southern Mindanao blamed the Philippine Army’s 46th Infantry Battalion (IB) for the death of a civilian who was shot by an unknown assailant on Tuesday noon, February 9 in Poblacion, Compostela, Compostela Valley Province.

Hanimay Suazo, spokesperson of Karapatan-Southern Mindanao, has identified the latest victim of extra-judicial killing as Jennifer E. Albacite, a banana cue vendor.

Albacite’s sister is Jeannirose, an anti-mining activist who works as a staff of a local peasant group Compostela Farmers’ Association (CFA).

The CFA had been opposing the entry of mining company Agusan Petroleum & Mineral Corp. (Agpet) in Compostela Valley province.

Shooting spree, bombings

On Tuesday afternoon, hours after Albacite was gunned down, Karapatan said that government troops from 46th and 71st IBs went on a shooting spree and bombed a heavily civilian populace using military’s heavy weapons artillery.

The incident, according to the group, has killed and injured civilians and caused destruction of properties in the communities of Sitio Kidaran, Barangay Mascareg and Anitapan, Panamin, Candinuyan in Mabini town, Palo and Lugpaton in Barangay Kingking in Pantukan.

Karapatan identified a small-scale mining worker (abantero) who was killed during the incident as Ronel Paas, 35. Suazo said Paas has three children and works at R.V. Tunnel located in Sitio Diat, Post-4.

Minor detained by military?

She said that a wounded 14-year old boy was illegally detained by the military at Barangay Tibagon, Pantukan Tuesday night and was transported to the military’s facility at Camp Panacan, Davao City.

Suazo has also scored the military for conducting an area target zonings or saturation drives in areas pinpointed by the military as places where communist rebels are believed to be hiding.

“The military conducted a zoning. They ordered all male small-scale miners to come out from the tunnel and to assemble in a certain area for an inspection until such time they will be ordered to be released,” Suazo told DavaoToday in an interview on Wednesday, February 10.

Attacks a legitimate encounter —  army

The military, however, said that there was a legitimate encounter between the government troops and the New People’s Army (NPA). The 10th Infantry Division (ID) claims that military troops from 46th IB figured in an encounter with the communist rebels in Pantukan, Compostela Valley province.

“Yesterday there (was) an encounter between the troops of the 46th IB and the New People’s Army which happened in Sitio Post-4, Barangay Napnapan, Pantukan ,Compostela Valley Province. It happened at around 4 o’clock in the afternoon to which it resulted to a 20-minute gun battle. Unfortunately, one soldier was wounded on that effect,” Captain Rhyan Batchar, 10th ID spokesperson, told reporters on Wednesday.

The wounded soldier was identified as Corporal Boskie Carcellar, who sustained a gunshot at the left side of his chest, said Batchar.

He added that “the soldiers of 46IB were running after the group of alias Raden, who is responsible for the series of violence in Pantukan, when they chanced upon a group of around 20 NPAs triggering a 20-minute firefight in Sitio Post-4, Barangay Tagdangua of the said municipality.”

Military to probe violations

When pressed to comment on the death of Albacite, Batchar said that the military “will cooperate any investigation” should there be soldiers implicated in rights violation. “We do not condone any misbehavior (of) our soldiers and we will give sanctions on our soldiers.”

But Karapatan belied the military’s claim and maintained that there was no encounter that transpired between the military and the New People’s Army rebels.

“There’s no truth to the claim of the military. There is no legitimate encounter,” Suazo said after the group has dispatched a Quick Reaction Team earlier today to probe the incident.

Suazo further said that some local miners were tortured by the “notorious” government troops under the 46th IB.” The military has forcefully ordered the small-scale miners to stop all the mining operations, Suazo said citing an account from a victim who requested anonymity. (davaotoday.com)

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